• Fostering “Little Green Guards ” through a collaborative partnership to create an effective conservation education program for rural children in Guizhou, China

      Tan, Chia L.; Yang, Y.; Niu, Kefeng; Lei, Shi; Weiyong, Zhang; Riondato, Isidoro; Giacoma, Cristina; Balletto, Emilio; Gamba, Marco; John, A. Phillips (2013)
      San Diego Zoo Global (USA), Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration (China), and the University of Torino (Italy) have partnered in a collaborative effort to promote environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation in Guizhou, China. The objectives of the partnership are twofold: (i) train researchers and wildlife professionals using a multidisciplinary program that employs the latest methods and tools in order to deepen their understanding of wildlife and the environment, and (ii) foster positive attitudes and behaviour toward wildlife in rural children through a creative education program called the Little Green Guards. A recent development of the education program is the Little Green Guards Club for children whose houses border nature reserves. During club meetings, staff of the three cooperating institutions and volunteers participated in teaching English and natural history lessons. Club activities included animal themed art projects, games, movies, and field trips designed to cultivate empathy for animals and appreciation for nature in these children. Evaluations conducted before and after implementation of the education program showed a significant increase in children’s knowledge of and affection for wildlife, and sometimes coincided with positive behavioural changes toward native species. Here we feature our collaborative effort in China as a model which can be adopted in other geographic regions where species and habitat conservation must become a top priority. We will discuss the role of Universities in critical assessment of previous experiences in order to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation with other development stakeholders (e.g. governmental and local authorities, civil society and NGOs, foundations and private companies, and local associations).
    • Growth, reproduction and diet of Roatan Spiny-tailed Iguanas, Ctenosaura oedirhina, with notes on the status of the species

      Pasachnik, Stesha A. (2013)
      Roatan Spiny-tailed Iguanas, Ctenosaura oedirhina, are listed as Endangered by the IUCN Redlist Assessment and under Appendix II of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These iguanas occur primarily on Roatan and Barbaretta, off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Habitat destruction associated with development, small-scale agriculture, and exploitation for food and the pet trade are contributing to the decline of these iguanas. This species was described in 1987 (de Queiroz) when it was split from the sister taxon C. bakeri, found on the island of Utila, Honduras. Since its description little has been done to understand its biology or protect this narrow-range endemic. Herein, I examined the morphology and body condition of this species across its range and report on its reproductive biology and diet. Similar to many members of the Iguaninae, males are larger on average and have relatively longer tails than females. Likewise, reproductive and dietary data are consistent with those for closely related species. The body condition of both males and females was lower in more pristine study sites, indicating that supplemental feeding in developed areas may be having an effect. A female-biased sex ratio was found in sites protected by grassroots efforts, where the populations were large enough to be studied. Conservation measures should focus on alleviating the threats of harvesting and habitat destruction through increased law enforcement, outreach, and education.
    • Incorporating mortality into habitat selection to identify secure and risky habitats for savannah elephants

      Roever, C. L.; van Aarde, R. J.; Chase, Michael J. (2013)
      Empirical models of habitat selection are increasingly used to guide and inform habitat-based management plans for wildlife species. However, habitat selection does not necessarily equate to habitat quality particularly if selection is maladaptive, so incorporating measures of fitness into estimations of occurrence is necessary to increase model robustness. Here, we incorporated spatially explicit mortality events with the habitat selection of elephants to predict secure and risky habitats in northern Botswana....
    • Mauritia flexuosa palm swamps: Composition, structure and implications for conservation and management

      Endress, Bryan A.; Horn, Christa M.; Gilmore, Michael P. (2013)
      Swamp forests dominated by the dioecious palm, Mauritia flexuosa, cover vast areas of the Amazon Basin and are poorly studied despite their recognized ecological and economic importance. This knowledge gap confounds current conservation and management efforts. In this study, we documented overstory structure and composition of M. flexuosa palm swamps (aguajales) as part of a broader effort to understand their ecology and assist in developing best practices for multi-use management for the Maijuna, an indigenous group in Loreto, Peru.…
    • San Basilio: Biodiversidad y Conservación/Biodiversity and Conservation

      Vanderplank, Sula E.; Favoretto, F.; Mascareñas, I.; Aburto, O.; Vanderplank, Sula E.; Favoretto, F.; Mascareñas, I.; Aburto, O. (International Community Foundation, 2020)
      The bay of San Basilio, Baja California Sur, is immediately remarkable to any visitor for its stunning landscape and heterogeneity of landforms and habitats. This secret corner of the peninsula quietly boasts abundant natural resources and phenomenal biodiversity. The whole bay is alive, above and below the rich lands and waters of this coastal paradise. The marine elements include rocky reefs, and both sandy and rocky shores, which span an ecotone of taxonomic biodiversity. The land-sea fringe is home to mangroves, salt-marshes, dunes and estuaries. The influences of land and sea support the presence of a plethora of coastal species, and further inland a healthy arid scrub complex with seasonal lagoons and permanent freshwater pools is home to several rare and endangered species, and elevated numbers of species in general. The mangroves show the distinct footprint of sea-level rise with areas of die-off towards the coast and areas of new colonization occurring above the current water-line. The biological riches of San Basilio remain threatened. Biodiversity at the coast is certainly impacted by the presence of humans and free-roaming dogs. Tourism on the beaches is putting considerable pressure on the coastal habitats, especially with regard to waste, trash, and mis-use of the beaches. Overfishing, through both industrial harvest and unsustainable take of top predators (e.g., sharks and groupers) is adversely affecting the marine ecosystems. Cattle are reducing the inland terrestrial biodiversity and abundance; more restrictions to cattle entry and the fencing of priority habitats are advised. Through the findings of this report we connect the conservation challenges of marine and terrestrial biodiversity, with recommendations for the long-term conservation of the San Basilio region.
    • The socio-cultural importance of Mauritia flexuosa palm swamps (aguajales) and implications for multi-use management in two Maijuna communities of the Peruvian Amazon

      Gilmore, Michael P.; Endress, Bryan A.; Horn, Christa M. (2013)
      Background Fruit from the palm Mauritia flexuosa (aguaje) is harvested throughout the Peruvian Amazon for subsistence and commercial purposes. Recent estimates suggest that residents of Iquitos, the largest city in the region, consume approximately 148.8 metric tons of aguaje fruit per month, the vast majority of which is harvested by felling and killing adult female trees. In this study, we sought to better understand and document the importance of M. flexuosa palm swamps (aguajales) in two Maijuna indigenous communities to inform the sustainable management of this habitat and species. Methods Semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and household surveys were carried out to assess the significance of aguajales and their associated plant and animal resources as well as to determine how the relationship that the Maijuna have with aguajales has changed over time. Results Aguajales and their associated resources are culturally significant and useful to the Maijuna in a wide variety of ways. In addition to M. flexuosa, the Maijuna use over 60 different species of plants from aguajales. When M. flexuosa is in fruit, aguajales are important hunting areas with a total of 20 different animal species hunted. The Maijuna also have traditional beliefs about aguajales, believing that malevolent supernatural beings reside in them. Notably, the relationship that the Maijuna have with aguajales has changed considerably over the years as aguaje fruit went from a subsistence item collected opportunistically from the ground to a market good destructively harvested beginning in the early 1990s. The Maijuna are concerned not only about how this has affected the future commercial harvest of aguaje but also about its effects on game animals given the importance of hunting to Maijuna cultural identity, subsistence, and income generation. Conclusions In order to meet the multiple socio-cultural and economic needs of the Maijuna, sustainable management efforts must be expanded to not only focus on the commercial harvest of aguaje but also other facets of their relationship with this habitat. Our study suggests that the research and development of multi-use forest management plans must not be restricted to commercial forest products and ecosystem services given that many communities rely on tropical forests for a wide range of non-market cultural, economic, and subsistence goods and services.