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«CENTRAL AFRICAN FORESTS: FINAL REPORT ON POPULATION SURVEYS (2003 – 2004) March 2005 A report by the Wildlife Conservation Society USA This report ...»

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LONG TERM SYSTEM FOR MONITORING THE

ILLEGAL KILLING OF ELEPHANTS (MIKE)

CENTRAL AFRICAN FORESTS:

FINAL REPORT ON POPULATION SURVEYS

(2003 – 2004)

March 2005

A report by the

Wildlife Conservation Society

USA

This report has been produced for the CITES MIKE Programme by:

Wildlife Conservation Society 1700 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 403 Washington DC 20009 USA The production of this report was facilitated with the financial assistance of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the European Community, the World Wildlife Fund International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The views expressed herein are those of the authors and can therefore in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the European Community and the World Wildlife Fund International.

CITES MIKE Programme P. O. Box 68200 Nairobi 00200 KENYA Tel : +254 (0) 20 570522 Fax : +25 4 (0) 20 570385 March 2005

Author :

Dr Stephen Blake.

2 Table of Contents Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: Introduction

Historical Perspective

Summary of knowledge of MIKE sites in 2002 as reflected in the African Elephant database

Introduction to MIKE in central Africa

Chapter 2: Phase 1 – Initial site contact and planning, site MOU, team recruitment...17

2.1 Initial planning

Monte Alen

Dzanga-Sangha

Nouabalé -Ndoki

Minkébé

Boumba Bek

Salonga

Bangassou

2.2 Survey design

Design un-biased versus model-based surveys

Sampling intensity versus geographic coverage

2.3 Impact of swamps

2.4 Transects and recces

Dung decay and defecation

Chapter 3: Phase 2 – Field Survey Training

Chapter 4: Phase 3 – Site reconnaissance, follow-up training and final survey design development

4.1 Site reconnaissance

4.2 Follow-up training

4.3 Final survey design

Chapter 5: Phase 4 – Field surveys and data management

5.1 Survey implementation

Mechanics of implementation

Chapter 6: Phase 5 – Data analysis and reporting

6.1 Analysis and reporting workshop

Chapter 7: Summary of results

7.1 Elephant dung abundance

Elephant abundance

Elephant dung encounter rate on travel-recces

7.2 Human sign abundance

7.3 Distribution of elephants and human activity

Chapter 8: Summary of results – Great Apes

8.1 Gorillas

8.2 Chimpanzees and unidentified apes

8.3 Bonobos in Salonga NP.

Chapter 9: Discussion of results and implications for conservation

Site summaries

Bangassou

Salonga

Dzanga-Sangha

Nouabalé -Ndoki

Boumba Bek

Minkebe

D istribution of elephants in relation to national park borders

Chapter 10: Concluding remarks

References

4 Figures Figure 1. Distribution of forest elephants in Gabon (from Barnes et al. 1997). 11 Figure 2. MIKE forest elephant inventory sites

Figure 3. Recommended survey design for MIKE elephant inventories in Central Africa (from Thomas et al.

2001)

Figure 4. Area of central Africa’s national parks, possible minimum area requirements for viable elephant populations*, and forest elephant home range size.

..............40 Figure 5. Problems of small area coverage when surveying forest elephant populations.

Figure 5 (cont’d)

Figure 6. Cost implications of line-transect surveys at different dung-pile abundance and desired Coefficient of Variation

Figure 7. Personnel responsible for training and executing MIKE forest elephant inventories in central Africa at the Somalomo Training centre, Dja Reserve Cameroon.

Figure 8. Pilot studies and data source surveys used to define final survey designs.

...64 Figure 9. Final survey designs for MIKE forest elephant inventories

Figure 10. Elephant dung density by MIKE site and survey stratum (National Park sectors in red)

Figure 11. Relationship between mean dung pile encounter rate and estimated mean dung pile density in transects across MIKE survey strata

Figure 12. Relationship between dung encounter rate recorded on transects and travelrecces

Figure 13. Relationship between human sign encounter rates recorded on transects and recces by stratum across all MIKE sites

Figure 14. Elephant carcasses, elephant hunting camps, and other hunting camps.

...85 Figure 15. Interpolation maps of elephant and human sign recorded on line-transects 88 Figure 16. Bonobo nest group encounter rate on travel recces within 10x10km blocks 93 Figure 17. Estimated elephant dung density in the Dzanga Sangha Complex in 1988 and 2004 this study

Figure 18. Relationship between elephant dung pile encounter rate and distance from the nearest village

Figure 19. Direct encounters of elephants during travel recces





Figure 20. Elephant dung encounter rate on transects with distance from park boundaries (negative values on x -axis indicates within park limits)

5 Tables Table 1. Estimates of forest elephant numbers in Central Africa in 1989 (From Barnes et al. 1995)

Table 2. Forest elephant population “estimates” referenced in the AED

Table 3. MIKE forest elephant survey implementation plan

Table 3. Management context summary of MIKE sites following site visits.

...............30 Table 4. Training programme calendar

Table 5. Elephant dung encounter rates generated from pilot studies, stratif ication, and effort allocation

Table 6. Summary of survey effort in each MIKE site

e) Salonga

Table 7. Survey implementation details

Table 8. Workshop participants

Table 9. MIKE analysis and reporting workshop program, July -Aug 2004.

.................73 Table 10. Summary results of elephant dung density by stratum and site from linetransect surveys

Table 11. Elephant dung pile density and crude elephant abundance estimate.

.........79 Table 12. Summary data on human sign abundance by site and stratum on transects and on recce -voyages

Table 13. Summary data of signs of illegal killing of elephants recorded on reconnaissance surveys

Table 14. Gorilla nest group encounter rates on transects

Table 15. Gorilla density recorded in MIKE sites

Table 16. Summary data on ape nest encounter rates recorded on line-transects by site.

Table 17. Estimated forest elephant density in MIKE sites compared to other sites across central Africa.

Table 18. Simplified indicators of population trends from change in the relationship between elephant abundance and distance from park borders.

6Acknowledgements

This report describes an enormous amount of work and effort carried out across central Africa by teams of dedicated researchers, their field assistants, guides and porters. It is difficult to describe the hardship imposed by weeks and months of nomadic living in central African forests, and the dedication and endurance that researchers and their staff must maintain in order to collect rigorous field data over extended periods.

The MIKE inventories were given strong political and administrative supported by the Wildlife Departments of Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, D emocratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea where unfortunately no field work was implemented. Site -based management authorities at each MIKE site provided much needed logistical, administrative, political, and technical support to MIKE, and in most cases provided their best field personnel to MIKE activities for extended periods. The Wildlife Conservation Society in Republic of Congo and DRC, World Wildlife Fund in Cameroon, CAR, and Gabon, Lukuru Wildlife Research Institute and Max Plank Institute in DRC, and the Canadian Centre for International Cooperation and Research in CAR were totally instrumental in any success this program has enjoyed. Among staff of the MIKE Central Coordinating Unit, Mr. Sebastién Luhunu guided the inventory programme to completion with an open collaborative spirit, with patience, understanding, and dedication. The MIKE administrative assistant, Erice Nyambe, provided much needed local administrative help and support. The MIKE D irector, Nigel Hunter, is thanked for his appreciation and his public acknowledgement of the effort required to make these surveys happen. Despite some hiccups along the way which are almost inevitable in a program of this complexity and scale but with limited resources, it has been a great pleasure to work with MIKE. The Administrative staff of WCS Africa Program provided much needed support.

This programme was funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, The World Wildlife Fund International, USAID-CARPE (Congo Ba sin Forest Partnership), the European Community, the Lukuru Wildlife Research Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Hopefully this report and its annexes, though late in comi g, will be useful to the n Wildlife Departments and Governments of central African elephant range States, and help them to plan effectively for long-term success in the conservation and management of forest elephants in their wonderfully rich and diverse nations.

–  –  –

Historical Perspective African elephants (Loxodonta africana) once have roamed across Africa from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope (Cumming et al. 1990). Unlike on other continents humans and elephants share a long evolutionary history in Africa, which may be why elephants have persisted in the Old World and not in the New, where immigrating human populations found elephants naive to humans and human aggression (Owen-Smith 1988). Ivory has been a symbol of luxury and wealth for at least the last seven thousand years, and elephants have probably been killed to supply ivory over much of this time (Meredith 2001). The empires of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Europe all collected ivory and hunted African elephants voraciously, and by the 16th century elephants had been exterminated from north Africa, and their distribution was already shrinking in subSaharan Africa (Cumming et al. 1990), as Arab traders bought ivory on the Kenyan and Tanzanian coast and sent hunting missions deep into the continent. The first sailors to anchor in the harbour at Good Hope saw elephants along the coast and wallowing in the sea (Meredith 2001). Inevitably, the new European settlers quickly moved north and left a land bereft of elephants in their wake. By the turn of the 20th century, the elephant population of Africa was perhaps 1 million animals, a fraction of former numbers, scattered across sub-Saharan Africa.

As elephants were being hunted in the savannas of east, west, and south Africa and open woodland, the forest elephants of west and central Africa fared rather better since penetration of the forest zone was difficult and slow (Barnes 1999). However as roads railways and trading networks developed in west Africa during the 17th century and beyond, and the price of ivory climbed steeply, the intensity of elephant poaching in west African forests increased dramatically and elephant numbers and range dwindled until the population collapsed just before World War 1, a collapse from which it never really recovered (Roth and Douglas-Hamilton 1991, Barnes 1999).

8 The vast equatorial forests of the Congo Basin remained largely unexplored and undeveloped for most of the history of the ivory trade, and it was not until European explorers, led by Stanley, opened up the region to trade and development (Meredith

2001) Ivory, along with slaves and later rubber, quickly became one of the Congo Basin’s most important commodities. The number of forest elephants that may have existed in central Africa before intense commercial exploitation began can only be speculated upon, but could have been very large – given most of the available habitat was suitable to elephants across much of the ca. 2 million km 2, there could easily have been an average density of 0.5 elephants km -2, or 1 million elephants in the forest zone. Based on an estimation of carrying capacity and surface area, (Milner-Gulland and Beddington 1993) speculated that there were 1.4 million forest elephants in 1814.

The ivory trade declined following the first world war, and elephant numbers across the continent experienced some respite from hunting for ivory, and by the 1960’s elephants were probably as numerous as at any time over the past century (Spinage 1994). However, by the 1950’s, ivory was again becoming more popular in consumer markets, and by the mid -1970’s concern was growing over the future of Africa’s elephants. The price of ivory rose dramatically, and a well-documented explosion of elephant poaching occurred, which during the 1980’s, reduced the African elephant population by perhaps as much as 50% (Douglas-Hamilton and Douglas-Hamilton 1982, Cobb 1989, Luxmoore et al. 1989, Milliken 1989, Barbier 1990, Milner-Gulland and Beddington 1993).



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