The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Acoustic monitoring: transforming primate conservation strategies in African tropical forest protected areas


1Sociology and Anthropology, James Madison University, 2WildCRU, University of Oxford, 3Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, 4WildCRU, University of Oxford

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Anti-poaching patrols are commonly used to control illegal hunting for wild meat, the primary threat to primates and other large-bodied mammals within many tropical forest protected areas. In Africa, anti-poaching patrols have been largely unable to curtail illegal hunting due, in part, to an inability to properly evaluate the patrol’s impact on hunting and wildlife abundance and to adjust patrol activity based on changing hunting patterns. To improve anti-poaching patrol outcomes, we deployed 12 autonomous recording units (ARUs), with a total detection range of 85 km2, in Cameroon’s Korup National Park (KNP) to continuously monitor gun hunting pressure for a year (June 2013 – May 2014). The ARUs recorded 2,068 gunshots. Hunters were active year round, but gunshot frequency during the dry season (December – February) increased threefold compared to the rainy season (May – September). Most gunshots were recorded at night (66%) and during the 3 days prior to local market day (57%). Gun hunting pressure was most intense on the periphery of the survey area (closer to villages). Based on the number of recorded gunshots and a kill success rate of 77% (derived from concurrent hunter surveys), we estimate that 25,384 animals (20.1/km2) are killed annually by guns alone in KNP. Given that hunter surveys show that 13.8% of total kills are primates, the KNP primate community suffers an annual loss of 3,503 animals. We describe how this unprecedented level of spatio-temporal hunting pattern detail can be used to design and evaluate anti-poaching patrols and transform their effectiveness in tropical forests.

Funded by: The Darwin Initiative, SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Program for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources South West Region Cameroon, Quartermain Foundation