The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Accelerating deforestation and hunting in protected reserves jeopardize primates in southern Côte d’Ivoire

E. ANDERSON BITTY1,2, SERY GONEDELE' BI2,3 and W. SCOTT MCGRAW4.

1Laboratoire de Zoologie et Biologie Animale, Université de Cocody-Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 2Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire, 3Laboratoire de Génétique, Université de Cocody-Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 4Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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Few countries have experienced greater deforestation than Côte d’Ivoire and most remaining forest is now confined to small protected areas. These habitat islands have become increasingly threatened by an influx of migrants from northern Côte d’Ivoire and other non-forested areas within the country following the contested 2010 election. Conversion of forest into cocoa plantations combined with escalating hunting threatens wildlife in these reserves, including several endangered primate taxa. This paper provides an assessment of primate distributions and abundances based on reconnaissance surveys of six protected forests carried out in 2010-2012. Line transect data are used to estimate group densities and intensity of poaching in each reserve.

Four of six reserves surveyed in southern Côte d’Ivoire have been completely transformed into cocoa farms and have lost 80 – 100% of their primate taxa. Two coastal reserves - Dassioko Sud and Port Gauthier - harbor 50 - 75% of their primate taxa, including two threatened cercopithecids: Cercopithecus diana roloway (0.002 groups/Km in Dassioko Sud) and Cercocebus atys lunulatus (0.002 groups/Km in Port Gauthier and 0.004 groups/Km in Dassioko Sud). Chimpanzees are believed present in both reserves. Despite the protected status of both reserves, approximately 90% of the undergrowth has been cleared, large trees are being felled/ burned and poaching is abundant: shotgun shell and trap encounter rates are 0.45 - 0.52/km and 0.87 – 0.96/km, respectively. Given the threatened taxa present, urgent conservation action is needed to preserve the Dassioko Sud and Port Gauthier reserves before they and their inhabitants are destroyed.

Supported by Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund award # 10251554, Conservatoire pour la Protection des Primates, and Primate Conservation Incorporated.

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