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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Study: Large Mammals need Improved Protected Areas

A team of researchers from the US and India who conducted a study on 25 large mammals species have found that improving the existing protected areas, making available new areas and better organization will help the species survive this century.

The team also found that the forest cover and human density were key factors affecting the survival of species like Lions, Tigers and Elephants.

"India's fragmented network of relatively small protected areas has high carrying capacities for large mammals," said Krithi K. Karanth, who conducted the study as part of her doctoral thesis at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "But given the overall patterns of extinction estimated in our study, we need to create new areas, and connect them better, if many of the mammals are to persist into the future."

She and her team also found that human tolerance to wildlife was an important factor when it came to their protection. The study revealed that species which were culturally important, and were believed to be non-threatening faired better than other species of animals.

To identify factors critical to the species' survival and estimate their extinction probabilities, the team collected 30,000 records, including hunting, taxidermy and museum records dating back to 1850. Using these historical data and current data they found which species was actually extinct in a locality and which was just non-detected.

Karanth added that for conservation to succeed, policymakers and land managers must also take into account rapid changes in land use, climate, population growth and spread, and economic development now occurring in India and southern Asia.

Image Credit
Flickr photo by chimothy27

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