Concept: Terry Gerin
White rhinoceros (rhinos) is a keystone conservation species and also provides revenue for protection agencies. Restoring or mimicking the outcomes of impeded ecological processes allows reconciliation of biodiversity and financial objectives. We evaluate the consequences of white rhino management removal, and in recent times, poaching, on population persistence, regional conservation outcomes and opportunities for revenue generation. In Kruger National Park, white rhinos increased from 1998 to 2008. Since then the population may vary non-directionally. In 2010, we estimated 10,621 (95% CI: 8,767-12,682) white rhinos using three different population estimation methods. The desired management effect of a varying population was detectable after 2008. Age and sex structures in sink areas (focal rhino capture areas) were different from elsewhere. This comes from relatively more sub-adults being removed by managers than what the standing age distribution defined. Poachers in turn focused on more adults in 2011. Although the effect of poaching was not detectable at the population level given the confidence intervals of estimates, managers accommodated expected poaching annually and adapted management removals. The present poaching trend predicts that 432 white rhinos may be poached in Kruger during 2012. The white rhino management model mimicking outcomes of impeded ecological processes predicts 397 rhino management removals are required. At present poachers may be doing “management removals,” but conservationists have no opportunity left to contribute to regional rhino conservation strategies or generate revenue through white rhino sales. In addition, continued trends in poaching predict detectable white rhino declines in Kruger National Park by 2016. Our results suggest that conservationists need innovative approaches that reduce financial incentives to curb the threats that poaching poses to several conservation values of natural resources such as white rhinos.
In the 200 years since the Sumatran rhinoceros was first scientifically described (Fisher 1814), the range of the species has contracted from a broad region in Southeast Asia to three areas on the island of Sumatra and one in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Assessing population and spatial distribution of this very rare species is challenging because of their elusiveness and very low population number. Using an occupancy model with spatial dependency, we assessed the fraction of the total landscape occupied by Sumatran rhinos over a 30,345-km2 survey area and the effects of covariates in the areas where they are known to occur. In the Leuser Landscape (surveyed in 2007), the model averaging result of conditional occupancy estimate was [Formula: see text] or 2,371.47 km2, and the model averaging result of replicated level detection probability [Formula: see text]; in Way Kambas National Park-2008: [Formula: see text] or 634.18 km2, and [Formula: see text]; and in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park-2010: [Formula: see text] or 819.67 km2, and [Formula: see text]. In the Leuser Landscape, rhino occurrence was positively associated with primary dry land forest and rivers, and negatively associated with the presence of a road. In Way Kambas, occurrence was negatively associated with the presence of a road. In Bukit Barisan Selatan, occurrence was negatively associated with presence of primary dryland forest and rivers. Using the probabilities of site occupancy, we developed spatially explicit maps that can be used to outline intensive protection zones for in-situ conservation efforts, and provide a detailed assessment of conserving Sumatran rhinos in the wild. We summarize our core recommendation in four points: consolidate small population, strong protection, determine the percentage of breeding females, and recognize the cost of doing nothing. To reduce the probability of poaching, here we present only the randomized location of site level occupancy in our result while retaining the overall estimation of occupancy for a given area.
Rhinoceros (rhino) numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century. As a result, three of the five species are now considered to be critically endangered, one species is vulnerable and one species is near-threatened. Poaching has increased dramatically over the past decade due to a growing demand for rhino horn products, primarily in Asia. Improved wildlife forensic techniques, such as validated tests for species identification of seized horns, are critical to aid current enforcement and prosecution efforts and provide a deterrent to future rhino horn trafficking. Here, we present an internationally standardized species identification test based on a 230 base pair cytochrome-b region. This test improves on previous nested PCR protocols and can be used for the discrimination of samples with <20pg of template DNA, thus suitable for DNA extracted from horn products. The assay was designed to amplify water buffalo samples, a common 'rhino horn' substitute, but to exclude human DNA, a common contaminant. Phylogenetic analyses using this partial cytochrome-b region resolved the five extant rhino species. Testing successfully returned a sequence and correct identification for all of the known rhino horn samples and vouchered rhino samples from museum and zoo collections, and provided species level identification for 47 out of 52 unknown samples from seizures. Validation and standardization was carried out across five different laboratories, in four different countries, demonstrating it to be an effective and reproducible test, robust to inter laboratory variation in equipment and consumables (such as PCR reagents). This is one of the first species identification tests to be internationally standardized to produce data for evidential proceedings and the first published validated test for rhinos, one of the flagship species groups of the illegal wildlife trade and for which forensic tools are urgently required. This study serves as a model for how species identification tests should be standardized and disseminated for wildlife forensic testing.
This article is a personal narrative by Ronnie Walker, MS, LCPC about the suicide of her step-son, Channing, in 1995. It describes the particular journey of shock, despair, disorientation, guilt and anger that Walker began after the death. It also describes the remarkable personal growth and restoration of meaning that emerged for the author as she began what is now the largest online community of suicide loss survivors in the world, the Alliance of Hope ( www.allianceofhope.org ). The article also provides numerous examples of the power of supportive community in helping survivors of suicide loss to not only cope, but to demonstrate post-traumatic growth after the suicide of a loved one.
Prior to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, suicides were almost unheard of in Kuwait. However, there has been a notable increase in the referrals of suicide cases to the forensic authorities since then. A review of suicide cases was performed to investigate the demographics of this phenomenon and the suicide modalities used and to uncover issues that can be addressed by the region’s government.
The ex situ Indian rhino population experienced a decrease in genetic diversity indicating that the breeding program could possibly benefit from novel reproductive management strategies to ensure population sustainability. We sought to determine how management tools used for reproductive management, specifically translocation and operant conditioning, impact physiological and behavioral measures of welfare in Indian rhinos. First, an adrenocorticotropic hormone challenge performed in an adult male resulted in a 38-fold increase in urinary and a 3.5-fold increase in fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM). Mean and peak FGM differed among three females, but all demonstrated elevated (P < 0.0001) concentrations for variable durations after translocation that lasted up to 9 weeks. Lastly, behavioral and adrenal responses of two females to operant conditioning to stand during transrectal ultrasound exams were monitored and rhinos differed in their mean and peak FGM concentrations. However, FGM were not different before versus during training or on pasture versus in the barn. One female exhibited more stereotypic behavior during training in the barn than on pasture (P < 0.05); although, stereotypies (1.73% of time) were relatively uncommon overall. In summary, individual variation exists in FGM both at baseline levels and in response to a stressor. In addition, while a transient rise in glucocorticoid activity post-translocation indicated that Indian rhinos have a physiological response to changes in their environment, minor alterations in daily routines using operant conditioning only resulted in minimal changes in behaviors and FGM. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals Inc.