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Tropical Conservation Science
June 2013 | Vol. 6 | Issue 2 | pages 158-310

Research Articles
    On-farm conservation of cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.) germplasm diversity. A value chain perspective | pages 158-180 Wouter Vanhove and Patrick Van Damme
    Cherimoya is a fruit tree species native to the Andean valleys of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. In the latter countries, cherimoya fruit shape and quality differs a lot with cherimoya trees that have varying characteristics, basically because there has not been a lot of domestication in the species. The latter trees are cultivated in small gardens, where they are propagated from locally available, sometimes wild planting material. There is, however, one cherimoya variety (Cumbe) from the Lima province in Peru that exhibits a rather unique and stable set of characteristics in the area where it is grown. Cumbe cherimoyas are exported from Lima to neighboring Andean countries, are graded and selected intensively, have a higher quality perception with the public and create significantly more added value for both producers and traders than the other, locally produced cherimoyas that are sold on local markets by local traders. As a result of the commercial success of Cumbe cherimoyas, farmers are buying Cumbe planting material from each other. Cumbe trees thus become spread at the expense of original wider germplasm-based cherimoya plants in the Lima province, which eventually decrease local cherimoya diversity. However, if cherimoya trees were not commercially used, they might be replaced by more remunerative crops, which would also cause loss of cherimoya diversity. To overcome this deadlock, a two-tier approach is needed in which conservation by farmers is complemented by cherimoya conservation in institutional collection gardens. Effective on-farm conservation can be achieved by developing cherimoya value chains in a number of regions other than Lima, following the example of Cumbe cherimoyas. To ensure that local cherimoya planting material is used in those areas, the origin of the cherimoyas should be used as a marketing tool.

    Protecting wildlife in a heavily hunted biodiversity hotspot: a case study from the Atlantic forest of Bahia, Brazil | pages 181-200
    Kevin M. Flesher and Juliana Laufer
    Peoples have hunted in tropical rain forests for thousands of years, mostly to feed their families. Today, in countries like Brazil, few people need to hunt for food and hunting is a leisure sport. The problem with hunting in regions like the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is that there are few forests left and after centuries of hunting, wildlife populations have fallen drastically. In order to protect wildlife, the Brazilian government declared hunting illegal and encourages private landowners to help preserve wildlife by providing tax exemptions for areas set aside for conservation. However, many hunters continue to hunt, thus threatening conservation efforts. The purpose of this study was to find out how to stop illegal hunting in a private reserve owned by the Michelin Corporation in Bahia, northeastern Brazil. Michelin hired four forest guards, and after three years needed to verify if this conservation effort was working. Wildlife abundances increased by 72.6%, and are now comparable to those in protected reserves. The study shows that successful protection requires hiring local men to work as guards, active interaction between the administrators and guards, day and night foot patrols, and collecting information on hunting in order to identify problem hunters. It is unnecessary to arrest hunters, as the strategy of frustrating hunters by destroying traps and hides and scaring off dogs is sufficient to reduce hunting pressure to acceptable levels. The results indicate that with the right investment and personnel, private reserves can play an important part in the preservation of wildlife even where hunting traditions are strong.

    Reducing rural households income fluctuations through diversification of wildlife use: portfolio theory in a case study of south eastern Zimbabwe | pages 201-220
    X. Poshiwa, R.A. Groeneveld, I. M.A. Heitkönig, H.H.T. Prins and E. C. van Ierland
    Rural households in Sub-Saharan rangelands face risks associated with annual fluctuations in household incomes due to rainfall fluctuations. In this study we address the question of how these risks can be managed in order to improve human welfare. Since high levels of biodiversity still exist in these rangelands, it is expected that people can improve their welfare by exploiting a combination of wildlife and agricultural activities (livestock keeping and cropping). The reason is that wildlife species may be better adapted to annual rainfall fluctuations than domestic livestock hence people may get sufficient income from wildlife. This would be possible if the risks associated with wildlife and agricultural activities are sufficiently different. Results have shown that the addition of wildlife as an asset for rural farmers’ portfolio of assets can be used as a hedge asset to offset risk from agricultural production without compromising on return. By exploiting different resources of income, rural farmers can realise a more constant household income than being dependent on one resource only. This is because it is rare for the whole portfolio to be affected by risk. However, the power of diversification using wildlife is limited because revenues from agriculture and wildlife assets were positively correlated. We therefore conclude that revenues from wildlife have potential to reduce household income fluctuations due to drought, but only to a limited extent. This finding could help efforts to conserve wildlife while also improving welfare of local people.

    Botswanan palm basketry among the Wounaan of western Colombia: lessons from an intercontinental cultural exchange | pages 221-229
    Rodrigo Bernal, Gloria Galeano, Néstor García, and Aida Palacios
    Traditional palm basketry of the Ba Yei and HaMbukushu people of the Okavango delta region in Botswana was introduced in the 1970s by a missionary to the Wounaan aborigines of western Colombia, who had a related weaving technique. The African technique was quickly assimilated by the Wounaan and enriched with shapes and decoration based on their own cultural patterns. The Chocoan palm Astrocaryum standleyanum, which the Wounaan used in their traditional baskets, replaced the African palm Hyphaene petersiana used in Botswana. The high quality of the new basketry led to a rapid success, and turned Wounaan Astrocaryum baskets into an icon among Colombian handicrafts, and market pressure led to a severe depletion of the fiber-producing palm near Indian villages in the late twentieth century, as palms were felled by the hundreds to harvest the young leaves. Educational campaigns and the introduction of an appropriate harvest tool have subsequently reduced the impact of leaf harvest, and A. standleyanum is now protected by the Wounaan. This case pinpoints the importance of a careful resource management assessment before introducing new market pressures on a traditional plant product. It is also a good example of positive results from a sustained campaign on appropriate resource management.

    Local knowledge suggests significant wildlife decline and forest loss in insurgent affected Similipal Tiger Reserve, India | pages 230-240
    Sasmita Sahoo, Jean-Philippe Puyravaud and Priya Davidar
    The presence of extremist groups in many regions in the Indian subcontinent could affect conservation efforts. In India left wing Maoist insurgency is prevalent in 20 states lying across the ‘red corridor’, and ethnicity based insurgent movements in 67 districts in six states in the Northeast, (South Asian Terrorism Portal 2011, viewed 15th October 2012: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/southasia/index.html). Insurgent groups often find refuge in inaccessible landscapes such as forests and mountains and the cadres are usually drawn from among the tribal forest dwellers and the lower castes. At least 9 of the 37 Tiger Reserves (24%) in India (www.projecttiger.nic.in). We conducted a study in Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha state located in the northern Eastern Ghats, India. We used an informant based survey of 217 men and women belonging to different tribal groups, to assess their conservation attitudes, and perceptions of wildlife status and forest condition over a 20-year period. The respondents while acknowleding the importance of conservation did not support the Governmental agencies such as the Forest Department. The recollections of the respondents indicated a drastic loss of wildlife and forest cover over a 20-year period, supported by data from governmental sources. This indicates that insurgency is a serious threat to conservation in Indian protected areas, and such informant based surveys could be useful in places where field work is difficult due to violent extremism.

    Wildlife exploitation: a market survey in Nagaland, North-eastern India | pages 241-253
    Subramanian Bhupathy, Selvaraj Ramesh Kumar, Palanisamy Thirumalainathan, Joothi Paramanandham and Chang Lemba
    The North-eastern India, one of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots, is home for about 225 tribes. Local culture, tradition of hunting for meat (for perceived medicinal value, ritual purposes), and community ownership of the forests have important role in biodiversity conservation in the region, especially in Nagaland. We report the quantum of wild animals sold at Tuensang town of Nagaland, based on a study from May 2009 to April 2010. Major tribes inhabiting this town are Chang, Yimchunger, Khiemungan, and Sangtam, who are reportedly hunter-gatherers. Greater variety of birds (35 species) and mammals (8 species) were sold, which fetched substantial revenue to the vendors. Traditionally, the people of Nagaland largely depend on wild animal meat for their protein requirement, and their consumption of different taxa varied seasonally. Locals opined that wild animals are declining in the region and hence, the people have switched over from consuming wild animals to domesticated animals. Wild animals are still being sold in open markets, which indicate the ineffectiveness of both Indian wildlife laws against hunting and of enforcement either by local administration or of local restrictions through village councils. We suggest monitoring of all major markets of Nagaland to understand the trend in exploitation of wild animals in the state. Given the traditional dependency of people of Nagaland on wild resources, cultural sentiments and livelihoods, any interventions for wildlife conservation should have the involvement and support of local inhabitants.

    The mangrove forest at the Bucatu Lagoon, Northeast Brazil: structural characterization and anthropic impacts | pages 254-267
    Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves, Roberto Sassi and Gindomar Gomes Santana
    The inter-tropical coastal lagoons environments are important for the maintenance of many types of organisms. In Brazil, these environments occur in different states of the Northeast, many of them showing well developed mangrove forest. The present study aimed to characterize one of these lagoons, inserted in the watershed of Bucatú in northeastern Brazil, investigating the structure and composition of mangrove forest. The structure parameters of the mangrove forest obtained were low, which was recorded a high density of dead plants of the species L. racemosa. Siltation in the mangrove area and changes in water flow in the drainage basin of the river Bucatú are the main impacts that has acted negatively and significantly in mangrove studied. It is noted that the lack of supervision and punishment of offenders has not facilitated the increasing degradation of the environment in question. Given the above, become urgent and paramount to establishing programs aimed at maintaining the integrity of ecosystems.

    Strobili and seeds production of Dioon edule (Zamiaceae) in a population with low seedlings density in San Luis Potosí, Mexico | pages 268-282
    Raymundo Mora, Laura Yáñez-Espinosa, Joel Flores, and Nadya Nava-Zárate
    The chamal or dameu’ (Dioon edule lindl.) is a plant with ancient origin distributed in scattered populations along the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico. Particularly in San Luis Potosi it has been related to Xi’iuy indigenous people. Traditionally the seeds were harvested to prepare food when maize production was scant and famine threatened the people subsistence. In the present chamal populations are threatened mainly for land-use change to pasture and farmland. Commonly populations have high seedling and low adult plants density, however there is one particular population that present the inverse tendency. This situation may be defined by low production of female and male strobili (reproductive structures) or seeds. Female strobili required 16-17 months and male 4-5 months to develop, and at the end 80% female and 100% male survived. We studied seed production with an accurate method used to evaluate seed production of pines modified to analyze seed production of chamal. Larger strobili had higher number of total seeds potentially produced in each strobilus and seeds with a developed embryo (filled). The mean number of potential seeds produced per strobilus was of 230.4. Using the X-ray technique, there were 100.2 filled seeds. The number of filled seeds as a percentage of the seed potential of each strobilus was of 42.5% indicating that major loss was attributable to seeds that possibly were not fertilized and did not develop an embryo. Seed production in this particular population affects the structure and hinders its long term conservation.

    Climatic and structural factors influencing epiphytic bromeliad community assemblage along a gradient of water limited environments in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico | pages 283-302
    Manuel J. Cach-Pérez; José Luis Andrade; Nahlleli Chilpa-Galván, Manuela Tamayo-Chim; Roger Orellana and Casandra Reyes-García
    Epiphytes are plants that live on top of other plants, mainly trees and are non-parasitic, that is they obtain water and nutrients mainly from precipitation and dust. Epiphytes can be an important contributor to local species richness, can create microenvironments suitable for fauna in the tree canopies and increase water and nutrient residence time within an environment. The factors that influence the distribution of epiphytic species has been studied in wet environments, where these are more conspicuous, but have received less attention in water limited environments such as mangroves, coastal sand dunes and seasonally dry forests. These water limited environments were the topic of the current study, in which species richness and composition of epiphytes belonging to the family Bromeliaceae were characterized along an environmental gradient in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Local climate and the composition and structure of the canopy were also analyzed. We found that epiphytic bromeliads are very responsive to local humidity and precipitation, as water is the most limiting factor in the canopy, but their composition was also dependent on the composition of the potential hosts (trees and palms). Structure of the canopy was also important since, under the dry conditions of these environments, the top canopy had a low density of epiphytes, contrary to that observed in wet forests. The lower canopy thus contributed to create a shaded environment, more sheltered to environmental stress. Thus the conservation of tree species richness and canopy structure play a role in the conservation of epiphytic bromeliads in water limited environments.

Short Communications
    Factors affecting big cat hunting in Brazilian protected areas | pages 303-310
    Elildo Alves Ribeiro de Carvalho Jr and Ronaldo Gonçalves Morato
    Hunting of jaguars and pumas is widely recognized as one of the main threats to their conservation in Brazil. However, the illegal nature of big cat hunting makes its study very challenging, so that we still know very little about this problem. In this study, we conducted a survey of big cat hunting within the Brazilian protected areas system. By interviewing managers of protected areas, we were able to have a glimpse on the scale of big cat hunting and on some potential factors associated to it at the national level. After interviewing managers of 100 different reserves, we confirmed the general impression that hunting is widespread. Jaguars and/or pumas have been hunted recently (within the last two years) in nearly half of the reserves where they occur. At least 60 large cats have been killed within this timeframe, though the actual figures are certainly much higher. Hunting was primarily associated to conflict between humans and carnivores, occurring as a retaliation to livestock depredation by these large cats or because people fear carnivore attacks. There was considerable variation in hunting between different types of reserves, with hunting being three times more frequent in the less restrictive sustainable use areas than in the most restrictive strictly protected ones. These results are just a first step in understanding big cat hunting in Brazil. They show that hunting is prevalent and that legally protected status is no guarantee of actual protection for these large felids. However, much work remains to be done in order to answer where, why, by whom and how much of hunting is going on in Brazil.

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