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Tropical Conservation Science
September 2010 | Vol. 3 | Issue 3 | pages 228-360

Brown civet. Photo by Kalyan Varma.
‘Serengeti shall not die’: Transforming an Ambition into a Reality | pages 228-248
Jafari R Kideghesho

‘Serengeti shall not die’ is a popular catchphrase worldwide attempting to describe the ecological value of Serengeti along with underscoring the urgency to addressing the challenges threatening its ecological integrity. It is an ambition towards a healthy ecosystem which can offer multiple benefits for the current and future generations. In this article, a review is made of the major challenges contradicting the ambition. They include; human population growth, poverty, human-wildlife conflicts, illegal hunting, habitat loss and unsustainable development of infrastructure and tourism projects. Based on these challenges, multiple strategies are proposed in view of transforming an ambition - ‘Serengeti shall not die’ – into a reality. These strategies include: promoting factors inducing positive attitudes towards wildlife conservation; adopting livelihoods and production strategies that are ecologically friendly; making human population growth an agenda of priority; ensuring adequate conservation status to critical wildlife areas; discouraging policies, land uses, and projects likely to cause adverse impacts on wildlife species and habitats; conducting applied research and ensuring effective utilization of the findings to guide management interventions; ensuring adequate and active participation of local communities in natural resources management; promoting the traditional practices and systems that enhance sustainable use and conservation of wildlife resources and; implementing sustainable tourism policies. The paper ends by urging the global community to increase support for conservation of the Serengeti taking into account that Serengeti, being a World Heritage Site, is a global asset. The article proposes the following as the ways in which the global community can intervene: supporting the local communities through income-generating projects and providing alternative livelihood options that will inspire people to refrain from ecologically destructive activities; supporting research programs that will provide practical solutions to problems facing the ecosystem; supporting training programs that will improve the management of the ecosystem; supporting the infrastructure and funding family planning and HIV/AIDS control programs.

Upscaling Payments for Environmental Services (PES): Critical issues | pages 249-261
Romain Pirard, Raphaël Billé, Thomas Sembrés

Payments for Environmental Services (PES) have become a prominent instrument in the field of conservation, in the wave of flourishing economic valuations of ecosystem services and a sudden attraction for various environment-related markets. The underlying principle of PES is to have beneficiaries of a given service making voluntary deals with service providers, with payments conditional to service provision. At a time when PES are likely to be scaled up massively in certain parts of the tropics, notably in the context of REDD+, it is important to refine the scope of implementation of the instrument to avoid several perverse effects and sustain its environmental benefits over time. We found that influential studies on PES often overlook a number of extremely important issues: First, poor rural populations should be targeted in priority whereas solvent industrial actors should be subject to the polluter pays principle. Using opportunity costs systematically as a basis for compensating service providers is a dangerous trend. Second, an absolute priority should be given to PES promoting improved productive systems. These are coined “asset-building” as opposed to PES freezing rights over a natural resource. Sustainability of conservation in the long-term, and the food security challenge, are two central reasons for such a recommendation. Third, PES carry the risk of undermining the consolidation of fragile states if they promote environmental interventions beyond the responsibility of national or local authorities. They may inhibit public reforms, reverse the polluter pays principle at the basis of public action, and result in payments to stakeholders who engage in illegal activities. Yet we also identified key conditions under which they may offer good prospects for combining with public policies.

A framework for assessing conservation and development in a Congo Basin Forest Landscape | pages 262-281
Dominique Endamana, Agni Klintuni Boedhihartono, Bruno Bokoto, Louis Defo, Antoine Eyebe, Cléto Ndikumagenge, Zacharie Nzooh, Manuel Ruiz-Perez, and Jeffrey A. Sayer

Conservation and development in a Congo Basin forest landscape
The Sangha Tri-National landscape covers over 43,000 km2 astride the Sangha River which forms the border between Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Over 95% of the landscape is covered in tropical rainforest parts of which are in national parks and much of the rest in logging concessions and community managed forests and hunting zones. The landscape has some of Africa’s most spectacular forest wildlife with large numbers of forest elephants, gorillas, the endangered bongo antelope and a rich diversity of other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants. The landscape is also home to 191,000 people of whom about 20% are pygmies. The people are extremely poor and live a precarious existence based upon employment in logging companies, small-scale agriculture and hunting and gathering. World Wide Fund for Nature, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the International Union for Conservation of Nature are supporting activities to maintain this biodiversity and also to improve the livelihoods of the people. For the past five years these organisations have hosted an annual meeting with local stakeholders to track indicators of progress in achieving their conservation and development goals. This group of stakeholders is known as the Sangha Group. This monitoring program has shown that the mix of logging concessions and protected areas is providing a good balance between conservation and local development. Wildlife remains abundant in the logged areas and the forests recover well after logging. However, neither the environmental indicators nor those for peoples’ livelihoods changed much until 2008. The biggest obstacle to progress was weak governance. However, the 2008 global financial crisis had immediate and surprising impacts. Logging companies curtailed their activities – it was no longer profitable to log in such a remote area – and local people lost their only possibility for gainful employment. The roads, clinics and schools that the logging companies had supported were neglected. The people had no option but to revert to poaching and clearing the forest for subsistence agriculture. Both conservation and development suffered. Progress on achieving both conservation and development requires a resumption of economic activities in a context of improved governance. The challenge for conservation organisations is to strengthen both local civil society and the programs of the government forestry and wildlife protection agencies.

Diet and fruit choice of the brown palm civet Paradoxurus jerdoni, a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats rainforest, India | pages 282-300
Divya Mudappa, Ajith Kumar and Ravi Chellam

Going nuts over fruits: Fruit-eating and seed dispersal by brown palm civets in south Asian rainforest
Civets are small cat-sized mammalian carnivores in Asia and Africa, primarily active by night and mostly tree-dwelling. These habits make them cryptic and difficult to study. Among this diverse group, palm civets (sub-family Paradoxurinae) are reported to have a predilection for fruits, despite being taxonomically categorised as carnivores, but the extent of fruit consumption and its implications are poorly known. This study explored aspects of diet and fruit choice in the brown palm civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni), a species found only in the rainforests of Western Ghats hills, India. In this study, over a thousand scats (faecal droppings) were collected and analysed across more than three years in the rainforest of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. The study revealed that this civet species consumed fruits throughout the year, eating at least 53 species of rainforest plants, mainly from trees and lianas, and pulpy drupes and berries. Fruits comprised around 97% of the diet but were supplemented with animal matter particularly during times of low fruit availbility in the rainforest. The seeds of these fruits are passed undamaged in the scats. Thus, through the year in the rainforest, brown palm civets carry thousands of mature seeds of diverse rainforest plants and deposit them at various distances in the surrounding forest—an invaluable service of seed dispersal. As a wide diversity of tree species are required to meet the brown palm civet’s year-round requirements, conversion of tropical forests to large-scale monoculture plantations in the Western Ghats is likely to negatively affect the species. However, the brown palm civet does persist in fragmented landscapes containing remnants of rainforest amid other land uses such as tea and coffee plantations, contingent on the occurrence of a diversity of fruit tree species in remnant fragments and within other land uses (e.g., shade trees in coffee plantations). In tropical forest areas where other dispersers such as fruit-eating mammals and birds have disappeared due to habitat loss and hunting, species such as the brown palm civet take on a greater value in seed dispersal and forest regeneration.

Tiger Reserve, Western India: preliminary findings on home range, prey selection and food habits | pages 301-318
K. Sankar, Qamar Qureshi, Parag Nigam, P.K. Malik, P.R. Sinha, R.N. Mehrotra, Rajesh Gopal, Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, Krishnendu Mondal and Shilpi Gupta

Reintroductions have proved to be a valuable tool for the recovery of the species that have become either globally or locally extinct in the wild. After local extermination of tigers from Sariska Tiger Reserve, three tigers (one male and two females) were re-introduced during the period June 2008 to February 2009. These radio-collared tigers were periodically monitored to study their ranging pattern and food habits. ‘Triangulation’ and ‘homing in’ techniques were used to obtain their radio-locations. The estimated annual home ranges for tiger and tigress-1 were 168.6 km2 and 181.4 km2 respectively. The summer home range of tigress-2 was estimated as 223.4 km2. In total, 115 kills and 103 scats of tigers were collected to study the prey selection and food habits. Tigers utilized seven prey species. Sambar was found to be the most consumed prey species as shown by kill and scat data. Line transect method was used to estimate the prey availability. The density of peafowl and livestock were found higher than wild ungulates. The prey selection of tigers showed preference for sambar and chital and avoidance for nilgai, common langur and livestock. It is proposed to restock the tiger population initially with five tigers in Sariska and subsequent supplementation of two tigers in every three years for a period of six years will allow the population to achieve demographic viability. Removal of anthropogenic pressure from the national park will be crucial for the long term survival of tigers in Sariska.

Taxonomic diversity, distinctness, and abundance of tree and shrub species in Kasagala forest reserve in Uganda: implications for management and conservation policy decisions | pages 319-333
Samson Gwali, Paul Okullo, David Hafashimana and Denis Mujuni Byabashaija

Forests provide a range of economic and environmental services to many national economies around the world. There is, therefore, growing concern internationally about the depletion of forests and hence the need for their conservation. In most cases, however, policy makers and forest managers see economic services as more important than environmental services. This is usually due to inadequate information about the environmental as well as economic services offered by forests. Even when attempts to provide such information are made, they are usually in form of lists of plants. Yet, forests are not just assemblages of individual trees/shrubs. Rather they are complex systems that include trees/shrubs and their relationships with each other. In this study, we used information on tree/shrub species, genus and family relationships to depict the conservation status of Kasagala woodland forest in Uganda. This forest is seriously threatened by wood extraction despite its water-catchment role for Lake Kyoga – one of Uganda’s lakes that supports over 100,000 people who depend on it for their livelihood. Our results show that there are not many species of trees/shrubs in this forest and that the forest is composed of many related trees/shrubs. This situation is usually caused by human activities of selective extraction of tree species. Indeed, during the study, we observed incidences of tree cut down for charcoal and firewood. As a way forward for conservation policy and management of this forest, we recommend awareness creation among the communities that utilize the forest. We also suggested that the forest managers should put more effort in developing techniques for replacement of trees that are cut down by forest users.

An evaluation of bess beetles (Passalidae) and their resource base in a restored Andean forest | pages 334-343
Gustavo H. Kattan, Carolina Murcia and Alberto Galindo-Cardona

Coarse woody debris and bess beetle (Passalidae) recovery in restored Andean forest
Probably the best way to recover a tropical forest is allowing natural regeneration to do the job. However, when soils are highly degraded or there are no seed sources from nearby forest remnants, planting rapidly-growing trees can catalyze the recovery of some basic ecosystem functions. Andean alder (Alnus acuminata) is a nitrogen-fixing, rapidly-growing tree that helps to recover soil fertility and provide habitat for some animals, but the plant diversity of alder stands is lower than that of natural regeneration of the same age. This study was conducted in the Colombian Andes to determine whether 40-years old alder stands and natural regeneration, and old-growth forest remnants, differed in the amount of coarse woody debris and diversity and abundance of bess beetles (Passalidae). Bess beetles are important dead wood recyclers, so their recovery is important for ecosystem functions related to nutrient cycles. We found that the number of fallen logs per unit area is the same in the three forest types, but wood volume is lower in alder stands than in natural forest types. Old-forest remnants contain a higher number of logs per unit area and more beetles per cubic meter of wood, but alder and second growth contain about the same number of beetles. Therefore, although alder stands are less diverse than naturally-regenerated forests, depending on local circumstances this tree may be a valuable tool for rapidly recovering some ecosystem functions.

A multi-scale geospatial study of wetlands distribution and agricultural zones, and the case of India | pages 344-360
Nidhi Nagabhatla, Rohan Wickramasuriya, Narendra Prasad and C. Max Finlayson

Wetlands are vital ecosystems with a number of beneficial functions to the society. Agriculture and fisheries have been recognized as being among the most significant. No one categorically knows the true extent of wetlands loss and risks they are subjected to, as there are several knowledge gaps. Update knowledge databases complimented with scientific analysis that reflect past and current trend of wetland use and also illustrates divers of wetland loss and degradation is central to foster adeptness and equity in addressing wetland management issues. The integration of data collected at different source is an attempt to refine and validate the information derived using earth observation satellite data and geographic information tools. A synoptic overview of the wetland landscape in current and historical times derived from multiple data sets help to understand the change in wetland systems driven by changes in land cover use. Understanding and documenting cross disciplinary investigation for wetlands ecosystems opens new vistas and offers new insights to address new challenges both in wetland management and conservation planning. The present study address the dynamics of wetlands ecosystem using a geo-spatial medium to detect environmental change and establish links between wetland, agriculture and biodiversity and their interdependence at multiple levels. The study highlights spatial analysis as a diagnostic tool for wetland assessment, inventory and change detection, while laying equal emphasis on the understanding of vertical and horizontal interaction among communities, institutions and polices that will govern the effective implantation of spatial outputs.

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Volume 3: Issue 3
Table of Contents

Estrada & Butler
Pirard et al
Endamana at al
Mudappa at al
Sankar et al.
Gwali et al
Kattan et al
Nagabhatla et al

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