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On the merits and feasibility of wildlife monitoring for conservation: a case study from Katavi National Park, Tanzania

Caro, Tim
African journal of ecology 2011 v.49 no.3 pp. 320-331
Panthera leo, Phacochoerus aethiopicus, case studies, census data, conservation areas, mammals, managers, monitoring, national parks, population dynamics, surveys, wildlife, Tanzania
Although long-term monitoring is viewed as an essential part of conserving wildlife populations, it is currently carried out in surprisingly few protected areas in Africa. Here, data from a 16-year vehicle transect monitoring programme in Katavi National Park, western Tanzania, are presented. These data provide information on large mammal densities, identify declines in populations of several large mammal species as based on encounter rates, support worrying trends observed in aerial census data and shed light on the effectiveness of recent changes in legal protection. Ground and aerial surveys confirmed that waterbuck, topi, warthog, lion and spotted hyaena populations are all in decline and that this should be a cause for concern. Counting animals by driving vehicle transects is relatively easy and inexpensive to carry out, and data here show that such counts have several pay-offs for conservation managers especially in identifying population declines; counts should be employed more often in East Africa and elsewhere.