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Spatial Pattern of Illegal Activities and the Impact on Wildlife Populations in Protected Areas in the Serengeti Ecosystem

Rija, Alfan A. (2017) Spatial Pattern of Illegal Activities and the Impact on Wildlife Populations in Protected Areas in the Serengeti Ecosystem. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Illegal activities in protected areas (PAs) are a major conservation problem linked to biodiversity loss. However, the scale of the problem at a global and local scale is unclear. There is a lack of understanding of the factors driving illegal activities and how law enforcement is targeted to reduce the impact of illegal activities. These information gaps limit the improvement of conservation, making tackling the problem difficult. I use an analytical approach, quantitative field surveys and field experiments in the Serengeti ecosystem to improve our understanding of this problem and how it could be reduced in protected areas. At a global scale, I found that illegal activities are present in more PAs than previously thought. Population of large wild mammals are more likely to decline in less-strict PAs in countries with limited conservation resources and where illegal hunting is conducted for commercial benefits rather than for subsistence. The probability of the mammal decline increases in countries where land use change is driven by illegal plant exploitation. At a local scale, in the Serengeti ecosystem, illegal activities are wide-spread, suggesting the problem is bigger than previously perceived. These are driven by poaching decisions made at various scales influenced by local habitats and environmental characteristics. I estimate there could be 137000 wire snares set at any one point across the Serengeti ecosystem, resulting in killing of approximately 14% of the animal population available each year. Despite this, I found current anti-poaching strategies ineffective at detecting and removing wire snares, increasing the risks of animal mortality and potential population declines, and fuelling the illegal wildlife trade. Any comprehensive strategy towards curbing poaching and other illegal activities in PAs must improve the deterrent effects of law- enforcement patrols through increasing conservation resources and improving their ability to detect and remove existing threats.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Biology (York)
Depositing User: Mr Alfan A. Rija
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:25
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 09:25
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20276

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