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Understanding spatial differences in African elephant densities and occurrence, a continent-wide analysis


de Boer, Willem F; van Langevelde, Frank; Prins, Herbert H T; de Ruiter, Peter C; Blanc, Julian; Vis, Marc J P; Gaston, Kevin J; Hamilton, Iain Douglas (2013). Understanding spatial differences in African elephant densities and occurrence, a continent-wide analysis. Biological Conservation, 159:468-476.

Abstract

The densities and survival of many wild animals are presently at risk. Crucial for improving conservation actions is an understanding on a large scale of the relative importance of human and ecological factors in determining the distribution and densities of species. However, even for such charismatic species as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), spatially explicit, large-scale analyses are lacking, although various local-scale studies are available. Here we show through continent-scale analysis that ecological factors, such as food availability, are correlated with the presence of elephants, but human factors are better pre- dictors of elephant population densities where elephants are present. These densities strongly correlate with conservation policy, literacy rate, corruption and economic welfare, and associate less with the availability of food or water for these animals. Our results suggest that conservation strategies should be organized in a socioeconomic context. The successful conservation of large animal species could depend more on good human education, greater literacy, good governance, and less corruption, than merely setting aside areas for conservation.

Abstract

The densities and survival of many wild animals are presently at risk. Crucial for improving conservation actions is an understanding on a large scale of the relative importance of human and ecological factors in determining the distribution and densities of species. However, even for such charismatic species as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), spatially explicit, large-scale analyses are lacking, although various local-scale studies are available. Here we show through continent-scale analysis that ecological factors, such as food availability, are correlated with the presence of elephants, but human factors are better pre- dictors of elephant population densities where elephants are present. These densities strongly correlate with conservation policy, literacy rate, corruption and economic welfare, and associate less with the availability of food or water for these animals. Our results suggest that conservation strategies should be organized in a socioeconomic context. The successful conservation of large animal species could depend more on good human education, greater literacy, good governance, and less corruption, than merely setting aside areas for conservation.

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Item Type:Journal Article["page:refereed_set_refereed" not defined]["page:subtype_original" not defined]
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:26 Mar 2018 20:31
Last Modified:13 Apr 2018 11:47
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0006-3207
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2012.10.015

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