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Does trophy hunting matter to long-term population trends in African herbivores of different dietary guilds?

Authors

  • W.-G. Crosmary,

    Corresponding author
    1. Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
    2. CNRS-UMR 5558, Laboratoire Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne Cedex, France
    3. Integrated Wildlife Management Research Unit, CIRAD-EMVT, Montpellier Cedex 5, France
    • Correspondence

      William-Georges Crosmary, Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Pavillon Alexandre-Vachon, 1045 avenue de la Médecine, Québec, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada. Tel: +1 418 656 2131 ext. 8152; Fax: +1 418 656 2043

      Email: william.crosmary.1@ulaval.ca

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  • S. D. Côté,

    1. Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
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  • H. Fritz

    1. CNRS-UMR 5558, Laboratoire Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne Cedex, France
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  • Editor: Iain Gordon
  • Associate Editor: Yngvild Vindenes

Abstract

The persistence of large African herbivores in trophy hunting areas is still unclear because of a lack of data from long-term wildlife monitoring outside national parks. We compared population trends over the last 30 years in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and the neighbouring Matetsi Safari Area where large herbivores were harvested at an average yearly rate of 2%. We investigated whether trophy hunting altered densities and the proportion of adult males in several large herbivore species. Large herbivores generally thrived as well, or even better, in the hunting areas than in the national park. The proportion of adult males did not differ between the two zones, except for species with higher harvest rates and proportionally more males harvested. Densities were not lower in the hunting areas than in the national park, except for elephant and impala. Large herbivores generally declined throughout the 30-year period in both zones, particularly selective grazers. This is probably because of their greater sensitivity to variation in rainfall compared with other herbivores. Rainfall indeed declined during the study period with droughts being particularly frequent during the 1990s. Browsers, mixed feeders and non-selective grazers generally declined less in the hunting areas than in the national park, possibly because of lower densities of natural predators and elephants outside the park. Our study highlighted that large herbivores may persist in trophy hunting areas as well as in national parks. When rigorously managed, trophy hunting areas may be relevant conservation areas for large herbivores, particularly under the current global decline of wildlife abundance across Africa.

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