AboutZoos, Since 2008


Poor nations more active in con­ser­va­tion of large mam­mals than rich nations

pub­lished 07 May 2017 | mod­i­fied 07 May 2017

Mega-Fauna Conservation IndexA new study com­par­ing the wildlife con­ser­va­tion com­mit­ments of nations around the globe has found that afflu­ent coun­tries in the devel­oped world com­mit less to the con­ser­va­tion of large mam­mals than poorer nation states. Pan­thera, the global wild cat con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tion, and Oxford University’s Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Research Unit (Wild­CRU) directed the study pub­lished online on 4 May in Global Ecol­ogy and Conservation.

Led by Pan­thera Research Asso­ciate Dr. Peter Lind­sey, sci­en­tists cre­ated a Mega-​Fauna Con­ser­va­tion Index (MCI) to eval­u­ate the foot­print of 152 nations around the globe in con­serv­ing large, imper­illed ani­mal species, such as tigers, lions and goril­las. The MCI eval­u­ates spa­tial, eco­log­i­cal and finan­cial con­tri­bu­tions, includ­ing: a) the pro­por­tion of the coun­try occu­pied by each mega-​fauna species; b) the pro­por­tion of mega-​fauna species range that is pro­tected; and c) the amount of money spent on con­ser­va­tion, either domes­ti­cally or inter­na­tion­ally, rel­a­tive to GDP.

Our [con­ser­va­tion] index pro­vides a mea­sure of how well each coun­try is doing, and sets a bench­mark for nations that are per­form­ing below the aver­age level to under­stand the kind of con­tri­bu­tions they need to make as a minimum
Pro­fes­sor David Mac­don­ald, co-​author, Direc­tor of WildCRU »

As reported today in The Econ­o­mist, the study’s find­ings revealed that poorer coun­tries tend to take a more active approach to the pro­tec­tion of large mam­mals than richer nations. Ninety per­cent of coun­tries in North and Cen­tral Amer­ica and 70 per­cent of coun­tries in Africa were clas­si­fied as major or above-​average mega-​fauna con­ser­va­tion performers.

Although chal­lenged by poverty and insta­bil­ity in many parts of the con­ti­nent, Africa pri­ori­tises and makes more of an effort for large mam­mal con­ser­va­tion than any other region of the world. In fact, Africa accounts for four of the five top-​performing mega-​fauna con­ser­va­tion nations, includ­ing Botswana, Namibia, Tan­za­nia and Zim­babwe. The United States ranked 19 out of the top 20 per­form­ing countries.

MCI top20Stan­dard­ised Megafauna Con­ser­va­tion Index scores for the 20 top per­form­ing coun­tries.
Image credit Lind­sey et al, in Global Ecol­ogy and Con­ser­va­tion.
Con­versely, approx­i­mately one-​quarter of coun­tries in Asia and Europe were iden­ti­fied as major mega-​fauna con­ser­va­tion under­per­form­ers. Asia as a region scored low­est on the MCI, home to the great­est num­ber of coun­tries clas­si­fied as con­ser­va­tion underperformers.

Lead author and Pan­thera Research Asso­ciate, Dr. Peter Lind­sey, stated, “Scores of species across the globe, includ­ing tigers, lions and rhi­nos, are at risk of extinc­tion due to a plethora of threats imposed by mankind. We can­not ignore the pos­si­bil­ity that we will lose many of these incred­i­ble species unless swift, deci­sive and col­lec­tive action is taken by the global community.”

Human-​caused threats, includ­ing poach­ing for the ille­gal wildlife trade and habi­tat loss and per­se­cu­tion due to con­flict with peo­ple, among oth­ers, are dev­as­tat­ing large ani­mal pop­u­la­tions around the globe. Recent stud­ies indi­cate that 59% of the world’s largest car­ni­vores and 60% of the world’s largest her­bi­vores are cur­rently threat­ened with extinction.

David Mac­don­ald said, “Every coun­try should strive to do more to pro­tect its wildlife. Our index pro­vides a mea­sure of how well each coun­try is doing, and sets a bench­mark for nations that are per­form­ing below the aver­age level to under­stand the kind of con­tri­bu­tions they need to make as a min­i­mum. There is a strong case for coun­tries where mega-​fauna species have been his­tor­i­cally per­se­cuted, to assist their recovery.”

The cre­ation of this con­ser­va­tion index aims to mobi­lize and ele­vate inter­na­tional con­ser­va­tion sup­port and action for large ani­mal species, acknowl­edg­ing those coun­tries mak­ing the great­est sac­ri­fices for con­ser­va­tion and encour­ag­ing nations who are doing less to increase their efforts. Sci­en­tists seek to pro­duce this con­ser­va­tion index annu­ally to pro­vide a pub­lic bench­mark for com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing nature’s largest, and, some would say, most charis­matic wildlife.

Address­ing how coun­tries can improve their MCI scores, Dr. Lind­sey com­mented, “There are three ways. They can ‘re-​wild’ their land­scapes by rein­tro­duc­ing mega-​fauna and/​or by allow­ing the dis­tri­b­u­tion of such species to increase. They can set aside more land as strictly pro­tected areas. And they can invest more in con­ser­va­tion, either at home or abroad.”

At the 1992 Rio Earth Sum­mit, devel­oped nations vowed to allo­cate at least $2 bil­lion (USD) per annum towards con­ser­va­tion in devel­op­ing nations. How­ever, cur­rent con­ser­va­tion con­tri­bu­tions from indus­tri­al­ized nations have reached just half of that amount, aver­ag­ing $1.1 bil­lion per year (USD).

Co-​author and Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor William Rip­ple added, “The Mega-​fauna Con­ser­va­tion Index is an impor­tant first step to trans­parency — some of the poor­est coun­tries in the world are mak­ing some of the most impres­sive efforts towards the con­ser­va­tion of this global asset and should be con­grat­u­lated, whereas some of the rich­est nations just aren’t doing enough.”

(Source: Pan­thera press release, 04.05.2017)

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Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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