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About douglaswise

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  1. @ForWildlife: I apologise if my wording confused you. It tends to be a mistake to comment without reading and digesting all the available data. I was splurging out semi thought through ideas. Furthermore, I referred to the abstract of the second paper and this should have been the third one: "Trophy hunting on the Park boundary exerted a measurable edge effect with lower survival of all age and sex classes compared to those distant from it". It was this comparison which led me to the suggestion that areas (deep) within the core could be considered control areas. Now suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Park were fenced. I suggest that it is possible that, with surplus males unable to disperse, there would be more rather than less perturbation in the "core". However, at low levels of prey density, lion population numbers would be more likely to more influenced by food availability than by intra-species perturbation and one might thus envisage a scenario in which male removal from around the periphery (inside the fence) would lower the population overall. The situation might reverse, however, with a greater prey density. Perhaps, therefore, you should look at what happens in the Bubye Valley Conservancy for comparative purposes. Hwange, with its principal herbivore biomass composed of elephants, is a less than ideal environment for all other species, including lions. Whether one regards this as atypical or not will depend upon one's conservation views. However, one should obviously be extremely cautious in drawing general lessons about lions from the Hwange experiments. Your explanations of increased perturbation seem fair enough, but I think you were describing an edge effect, which, depending upon circumstances, might be offset by reduced perturbation in the core.
  2. @For Wildlife: I am sorry to come back on this subject so soon. However, I started thinking about the abstract of the second paper, which dealt with studies in the same region as the first. The authors suggested that reduced perturbation was an explanation for increased lion numbers and smaller home range sizes when hunting was stopped or reduced. However, they seemed to suggest that this was an edge effect and didn't apply to core areas - in fact, one could think of core areas as a control in their experiment as they were using it for comparison purposes. One, of course, might expect reduced perturbation in the core than on the periphery which, in fact, would reduce in the core even more with the offtake of males from the periphery (assuming the perturbation to be of an intra-species nature). If one is not dealing with intra-species perturbation, what are the authors implying? Surely, there is no suggestion that hunters were entering core areas and harassing lions in order to shift them out of the Park to areas where they could be hunted? I am confused. I am not doubting the numbers that the researchers are producing, but I do wonder whether their explanations as to cause are necessarily valid. This is not, of course, to suggest that I deny the possibility of over-hunting in some circumstances. On reflection, it would be logical to suppose that lion prides would be more stable and successful breeders under circumstances in which surplus males were able to disperse to peripheral areas never to return. One might surmise from the figures, however, that excessive male offtake is not benign. Why? Perhaps males dispersing from the Park don't find circumstances outside to be conducive and thus oscillate back and forth, disrupting things round the edge. However, disruption here should, in theory, be balanced by more stability deep within the core. This might be implied by the second paper, but not the first.
  3. @For Wildlife: Thank you for having gone to the trouble of giving citations relating to lion hunting. Unfortunately, I currently lack the time to more than skim the full papers. However, there does seem to be prima facie evidence that excessive lion hunting (from 1999 to 2004) around the northern periphery of Hwange harmed the population within the northern third of the Park, suggesting excessive quotas or flouting of quotas. Authors noted, however, that offtake in this region was unprecedently high relative to others in Zimbabwe. Further, the lowered quota in this region post the moratorium appeared to be sustainable. On a somewhat different topic, the authors of the first paper stated that the proportion of male cubs born between 1999 and 2004 increased, suggesting that this may have been compensation for excessive adult male mortality. I find it extraordinarily difficult to think of any physiological mechanism that could explain such compensation. One would have to postulate that circumstances favoured male over female sperm or that pregnant females selectively aborted or failed to implant female embryos. It is fairly typical for male births to exceed female by a small percentage in many species (4-8%), but I don't understand how this happens. I am, therefore, not entirely happy to condemn the authors' conjecture, but remain sceptical pending an explanation.
  4. @ForWildlife: A few comments on your last post. I think you are muddying the waters by stating that "preventing poaching will never be possible" in response to my comments relating to the costs of good protection. I am not naive enough to suppose that perfection in this regard will ever be possible. You go on to suggest that the sums required for good protection can never be realised in Africa itself and suggest, instead, that the rest of the world should pay. Please could you give us some idea of the sums currently being raised outside Africa for wildlife conservation in it? (This is a genuine question to which I don't know the answer, but I would be surprised if it were a significant fraction of the US$1500 million under discussion. I would also argue that these outside funds often come with strings that impose a protectionist model of conservation which, in some circumstances, can do more harm than good). You go on to suggest that companies that use animals in their logos should be obliged to pay into a conservation fund for protection of said animals - a typically socialist idea of confiscating the assets of others to help with one's own pet projects and, I believe, first propounded by WildCru. You go on to ask how many PUBLIC areas I can think of where hunting has caused an increase of wildlife populations. Perhaps, we are approaching the nub of the debate. Public areas generally suffer from the phenomenon of "the tragedy of the poorly regulated commons". Certainly, the best examples of the benefits of hunting are to be found in private areas. You go on to suggest that some successful private areas could switch from hunting to eco-tourism. Implicit in this comment is your belief that the latter would provide a superior option. I think you are probably wrong in most instances because you immediately introduce compromises to what I would consider to be good wildlife management and habitat protection. Furthermore, you would be likely to reduce the benefits accruing to proximate communities. Finally, you should appreciate that the supply of eco-tourists is not infinite so that increasing places available for them is likely to depress the profits of all such hospitality providers. You proffer evidence that the lion situation in Hwange is not influenced by excess elephants leading to limitations of prey. I am totally unconvinced by your evidence. The knock-on effects of killing peripheral male lions in terms of pride disruption elsewhere in the Park, if real, are almost certainly exacerbated by pre-existing intense intra-species competition occasioned by shortage of available prey. Otherwise, why isn't the same happening in Bubye? Your "impalas in a pasture" comment is worthy of much greater discussion. You have caricatured an extreme end of wildlife ranching. I believe it may sometimes be appropriate to provide assistance to wildlife ,which, perforce, is being penned into agriculturally poor areas. (The penning may be by means of a fence or by the presence of humans around the periphery at densities of 10/sq km or above). Artificial water holes will certainly increase biomass in semi-arid areas by allowing wildlife fully to exploit the available vegetation. In fact, up to a certain level, the vegetation will become more productive by dint of more efficient exploitation by grazers. Clearly, however, particularly in the absence of adequate predators, there will come a time when more efficient exploitation will become over-exploitation and require culling. I am unconvinced that it is inappropriate to provide salt licks in wildlife areas, particularly when animals are constrained in areas that may be deficient in trace minerals. The subject of feeding is much more contentious. What would be a sustainable carrying capacity of wildlife in typical years might well become serious overpopulation in a drought year. One is left with a choice of supplementary feeding, culling or starvation. Supplementary feeding is generally not affordable, but may not necessarily be wrong. Culling is probably better than starvation - certainly on humane grounds, but also because it is likely to result in less habitat damage and may generate some carcass/hide value. Of course, one might argue that one should only keep numbers to the level sustainable in drought years by culling in normal rainfall years. Finally, I'm delighted that we agree that hunting and eco-tourism, if well planned, can co-exist in the same areas. I entirely agree that management should be open about this.
  5. @optig: You give a citation, but finish post # 26 with the following statement: "Furthermore, it is now recognised that elephants don't destroy the environment they rebuild it; thus they are engineers" which has nothing whatsoever to do with the citation and is not qualified in any way. Your comment beggars belief.
  6. @ForWildlife: I don't necessarily take issue with all that you say. However, due to human population growth, I envisage that increasing proportions of wildlife will be confined to fenced and protected areas in the future. It is proving impossible and unaffordable to prevent poaching over vast tracts of land, sad as this may be. As far as I can estimate, good protection will have a gross cost of between US$500 and US$2200/sq km per annum. One reads that the potential area of African elephant range is some 3 million sq km. At the lowest figure I quote for protection, this would cost US$1500 million to protect effectively. I think it quite possible that protection costs might fall following the re-establishment of a legal ivory trade and the sold ivory itself would provide some conservation income. However, I would argue that it is better to protect a smaller area well than a huge area inadequately. This debate relates to the banning of trophies into the USA. I think you are being naive or mischievous to deny any benefits of hunting just because you can cite examples (maybe numerous) where legal hunters have failed entirely to prevent the activities of poachers. The presence of eco-tourists doesn't obviously provide better deterrence. In corrupt countries and those experiencing civil unrest, wildlife protection is well nigh impossible. However, I have cited the Bubye Valley Conservancy as one example where a 370 sq km area is being run profitably and without significant poaching using a hunting model of conservation. The US ban is a very significant threat to its survival. It currently has the highest density of wild lions in Africa and generates a high proportion of its income from lion hunting. You prefer to focus on areas such as Hwange in which you claim that over-hunting is reducing lion density. Might you not consider that a surplus of elephants is reducing available lion prey in this Park - probably a much better explanation as to why lions aren't thriving? Neverthless, I accept that any extra pressure on a non-thriving population may prevent population growth. I agree that trophy hunting, game harvesting and (over)population reduction culling can become somewhat scrambled in these debates. Game ranching for meat generally pays less than cattle ranching unless supplemented by income from trophy hunters. Many South African ranches thus need trophy hunters to enable them to ranch game rather than domesticated livestock. Wildlife has increased in South Africa by 70% in consequence of game ranching. In Kenya, it has fallen by an equivalent percentage. A fenced game reserve is, to all intents and purposes, a game ranch with added predators. Despite the predators, it is likely that management (culling) will sometimes be required to keep the habitat sustainable and maximise biodiversity. I strongly disagree that eco-tourism, culling and hunting are incompatible. An ecotourist in a single camp seldom covers an area of greater than 100sq km. Culling or hunting could very easily take place in a 300sq km reserve without eco-tourists being aware. In fact, in my view, this multiple use approach would be hugely beneficial for wildlife conservation and welcomed by all. You refer to the "opinions of the masses" being a potential problem for the implementation of good conservation practice. Why cave in? Why not try a little education?
  7. @ice: You obviously hate "trophy hunters" and are making a judgement based upon your moral beliefs. These may represent a majority view - certainly on this site - but I would question your right to force or impose your moral attitudes on others. I am surprised, in fact, that the manner in which you express yourself hasn't attracted the attention of the moderators. Many seem to have a death-denying culture. We all have to die and surplus wildlife will generally have better deaths through bullets than starvation. Whether the executioner is paying or earning from the exercise is immaterial to the quarry. Generally, however, conservation is best served by the former because of its income generation. The acquisition of the "trophy" very rarely represents the prime motivation of the sport hunter. It is probably more analogous to your photographing what you see as a reminder of what you have enjoyed seeing. I appreciate that my previous post was provocative, but I am not prepared to cede the moral high ground to the likes of you, however well-intentioned you think you are. Please study the website of the Bubye Valley Conservancy and then revert with your opinions on their conservation model. I assume that you won't like the trophy hunting aspect, but would you acknowledge its contribution to conservation? Is it better that it should be able to carry on or would you like to see it fail for moral reasons and the land go back to cattle farming?
  8. I am beginning to wonder whether the conservation of African wildlife might better be served by the banning eco-tourism. Clearly, this would have some downsides to the extent that it would reduce income for animal protection and would reduce the enjoyment of some relatively wealthy foreigners. However, the money received from eco-tourists is very rarely adequate to buy much of conservation value and tends to be accompanied by the imposition of dictatorial protectionist values (eco-imperialism) which are, themselves, totally inimical to good conservation. Without such accompanying baggage, eco-tourism would obviously be beneficial. I know of no reputable conservationist who would not agree with @Bugs in giving primacy to habitat maintenance rather than to species protection. Unfortunately, a conservation model that depends solely upon species protection is leading to habitat fragmentation and even habitat destruction. I note that @For Wildlife categorises himself as a "researcher" and as a first time visitor to Africa. I would be very interested to learn the subject of his research expertise. Does he have, for example, any expertise in population dynamics? In many countries of Africa, there is a dearth of wildlife even in supposedly protected areas. In these, a protectionist model of conservation is probably the most appropriate short-term approach . However, in southern Africa, surplus populations of, particularly, elephants are severely damaging habitats and much of this is directly caused by those who advocate absolutist protection in all circumstances. I find it galling that wildlife management is generally regarded on this site as morally repellant. The concept that a laissez faire approach, buttressed only by a war on poaching, will provide a benign outcome for wildlife is, in my view, totally misguided in today's African anthropogenic environment.
  9. @Jochen: You are, of course, absolutely correct to suggest that the debate being conducted here may not be grounded in reality. We have been considering the optimum strategies for wildlife conservation - be they non-consumptive only or in combination with sustainable use. However, reality on the ground will largely determine what happens. In countries with poor and expanding populations, the majority of whom are living under subsistence conditions and who are governed by those incapable of enforcing the law or unwilling to enforce it evenly across all sections of the populace, it is very hard to see any hope for attempts to improve wildlife conservation. I fear that suitable wildlife habitat will shrink and be confined in future to fenced reserves. Nevertheless, it is still important to get to grips with optimum forms of wildlife and habitat management even in such reserves as well as to determine the preferred methods of financing them. In my newspaper today, I read a quotation that was attributed to the President of the EU Commission and described as one of the great political truisms of the modern age: "We know what has to be done, we just don't know how to get re-elected afterwards". If good governance proves impossible in supposedly well educated western liberal democracies, what hope is there for Africa - at least in those states which attempt to to copy our democratic systems?
  10. @Towlersonsafari: I've been thinking a bit more about your comments that growth of rough sedge-like grasses may have been responsible for the observed decline in zebra and wildebeest numbers. I wonder whether you could provide a link to that information. I'm not necessarily suggesting that it's wrong, but it strikes me as being counter-intuitive. Zebras are long-grass grazers and wildebeest like short grass. The latter, therefore, to some extent, need the former. However, perhaps a shortage of zebras caused the botanical changes observed. If I had to guess, I'd suggest that this is as likely as the change in vegetation being the cause of the zebra decline. I would thus like to look at the evidence you mention, if only for my further education.
  11. @Towlersonsafari: I think that we can, indeed, agree over several matters. discussed in this paper. Certainly, declines in the species mentioned are very likely to be multi-factorial. Also, if the President decided that a ban was in the country's interests despite majority opposition from wildlife advisers in the northern region, one could argue that the decision was not arbitrary. However, we both agree that it would then have been equitable to compensate the losers in the north in the hope of mitigating an anticipated increase in poaching. That said, numbers of many wildlife species were falling fast well before the introduction of the hunting ban. I consider that one of the possible causes of this (along with those you listed) was habitat degradation and food competition occasioned by excessive numbers of elephants. Two things that became clear from the paper: 1) Wildlife numbers increased after the establishment of CBNRM areas, almost certainly in consequence of the extra income received by the communities, in turn almost all attributable to hunting. 2) The author (judging from both his name and the fact that he was based at the Okavango Research Institute at the University of Botswana in Maun) cannot be accused of being pro-hunting on "eco-imperialist" grounds.
  12. @COSMIC RHINO: Thank you for giving the citation relevant to post # 324. It is now clear that the status report related to elephants. It represents the most useful source of up-to-date information on continental numbers that is currently available. It adds to and supercedes the Great Elephant Census data. It is unfortunate that it does not appear to have attracted similar publicity.
  13. @optig: We live on different planets because you KNOW and believe all sorts of things that seem to me to be demonstrably incorrect. I'm not sure how you you can be so certain unless it is by ignoring data that don't suit you fixed world view. Re. more specific points: Yes. Hunting must be well regulated and, in corrupt countries (I won't name any), professional hunters may not stick to quotas. However, in these countries, poaching will also be unconstrained (except to an extent by the presence of hunters). You thus seem to be worrying as much about a mote as a beam in the eye, thus lacking a sense of perspective (admittedly difficult if you have anything in your eye). Please let us know how many elephants you would like to see heading south into the Kalahari desert. Please also let us know what the effects of various numbers would be on the habitat and other mammalian species.
  14. @Towlersonsafari: I'm glad you took the trouble to read the paper cited by @Bugs. The questions you raise are pertinent, but, with more careful reading, it is possible you may have been able to answer some of them yourself. I accept that more definitive conclusions would have required more time and monitoring from a purist's point of view. It seems a shame that the President took a decision that appeared to be opposed by most local experts. Given that 22% of the land area of Botswana was made up of Wildlife Management Areas and Controlled Hunting Areas (as opposed to 17% that is formally protected by having Park or Reserve status), there would appear to have been more than enough space to trial different land uses with income and wildlife monitoring taking place. This would seem to be better than taking an arbitrary and possibly bad decision that affects the entirety of the country's land area.
  15. This paper provides useful data that show the extent to which trees and birds benefit from the presence of macrotermes mounds and the extent to which browsing mammals limit these benefits..

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