Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | Geography Department | Biogeography | News | Harnessing ranger-collected data for adaptive management in protected area

Harnessing ranger-collected data for adaptive management in protected area

Ghoddousi, A., Van Cayzeele, C., Negahdar, P., Soofi, M., Kh. Hamidi, A., Bleyhl, B., Fandos, G., Khorozyan, I., Waltert, M. & Kuemmerle, T.

 

Summary:

Ranger patrols are the most common conservation measures against poaching in protected areas. We extracted, digitized and analyzed ranger-collected data from logbooks to predict poaching prevalence, its determinants and to devise future patrolling strategies.

 

Abstract:

Poaching is driving many species towards extinction, and lowering poaching pressure is, therefore, a conservation priority. This requires understanding where poaching pressure is high, and which factors determine these spatial patterns. But the cryptic and illegal nature of poaching makes this difficult. Ranger patrol data, typically recorded in protected area logbooks, contain information on patrolling effort and poaching detection, and should thus provide opportunities for a better understanding of poaching pressure. However, these data are seldomly analyzed and rarely used to inform adaptive management strategies. We developed a novel approach making use of analogue logbook records to map poaching pressure and to test environmental criminology and predator-prey relationship hypotheses explaining poaching patterns. We showcase this approach for Golestan National Park in Iran, where poaching has depleted ungulate populations substantially. We digitized data from >4,800 ranger patrols from 2014-2016 and used an occupancy modeling framework to relate poaching to (1) accessibility, (2) law enforcement, and (3) prey availability factors. Based on predicted poaching pressure and patrolling intensity, we provided suggestions for future patrol allocation strategies. Our results revealed a low probability (12%) of poacher detection during patrols. Poaching distribution was best explained by prey availability, indicating that poachers target areas with high concentrations of ungulates. Poaching pressure was estimated to be high (>0.49) in 39% of our study area. To alleviate poaching pressure, we recommend ramping up patrolling intensity in 12% of the national park, which could be possible by reducing excess patrols in about 20% of the park. However, our results suggest that for 27% of the park, it is necessary to improve patrolling quality to increase detection probability of poaching, for example, by closing temporal patrolling gaps or expanding informant networks. Our approach illustrates that analogue ranger logbooks are an untapped resource for evidence-based and adaptive planning of protected area management. Using this wealth of data can open up new avenues for better understanding poaching and its determinants, for expanding effectiveness assessments into the past, and more generally, for allowing for strategic conservation planning in protected areas.


Link to the manuscript: https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2601

 

Citation: Ghoddousi, A., Van Cayzeele, C., Negahdar, P., Soofi, M., Kh. Hamidi, A., Bleyhl, B., Fandos, G., Khorozyan, I., Waltert, M. & Kuemmerle, T. 2022. Understanding spatial patterns of poaching pressure using ranger logbook data to optimize future patrolling strategies. Ecological Applications

 

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