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  • Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats

    M O

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    a manual for researchers, managers

    and conservationists

    Simon Hedges (Ed.)

    S im

    o n

    H e

    d g

    e s (E

    d .)

    U n

    iv e rs

    it ie

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    re s s

    This peer-reviewed manual presents

    a conceptually-unified and

    statistically rigorous approach to

    monitoring elephant populations.

    The authors, who between them

    have many decades of experience in

    statistics, wildlife monitoring and

    elephant conservation work in Asia

    and Africa, present an array of

    methods for estimating elephant

    population size and distribution and

    for monitoring threats. The manual

    contains a pair of chapters for each

    of the major methods covered, with

    the first of the pair covering the

    underlying theory and the second

    covering practical field methods and

    recommendations. However, the

    practical chapters have been written

    so as to be as 'standalone' as

    possible; in other words, it should be

    possible to read a practical chapter

    and gain a good idea of how to use a

    particular method in the field

    without necessarily reading the

    entire theoretical chapter. This

    manual represents, therefore, a

    practical tool that will help address

    current elephant population

    monitoring needs and which will be

    of use to wildlife managers,

    conservationists and elephant

    researchers.

    Production of this book was made

    possible through the generosity of the

    following organizations: the Wildlife

    Conservation Society, the U.S. Fish &

    Wildlife Service's Asian Elephant

    Conservation Fund and the

    International Elephant Foundation.

    The Wildlife Conservation Society

    (WCS) was established at the Bronx

    Zoo in the USA in 1895. WCS strives to

    develop, implement, provide and

    promote on-site, long-term, science-

    based field approaches to the

    conservation of wildlife, wildlife

    habitats and biodiversity more

    generally. WCS works on over 500

    conservation projects in 56 countries.

    WCS has many decades of experience

    working on elephant ecology and

    conservation, population monitoring,

    law enforcement and human–

    elephant conflict in Africa and Asia.

    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's

    Asian Elephant Conservation Fund

    (AsECF) supports projects that help

    protect elephant populations through

    capacity building, reduction of

    human–elephant conflict, habitat

    protection and law enforcement.

    The International Elephant

    Foundation (IEF) supports

    conservation, education and research

    on the world's elephants with a

    commitment to effect positive change

    through the facilitation of elephant

    conservation and sound scientific

    investigation resulting in the

    protection of elephants for future

    generations. Universities Press Simon Hedges (Ed.): Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats

    www.universitiespress.com

    Cover design: OSDATA, Hyderabad

  • Monitoring Elephant Populations and

    Assessing Threats a manual for researchers, managers

    and conservationists

    Simon Hedges (Ed.)

  • Universities Press (india) Private Limited

    Registered Office 3-6-747/1/A & 3-6-754/1 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad 500 029 (A.P.), India Email: info@universitiespress.com, Web: www.universitiespress.com

    Distributed by Orient Blackswan Private Limited

    Registered Office 3-6-752 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad 500 029 (A.P.), India

    Other Offices Bangalore / Bhopal / Bhubaneshwar / Chennai / Ernakulam / Guwahati / Hyderabad / Jaipur / Kolkata/ Lucknow / Mumbai / New Delhi / Noida / Patna

    © Universities Press (India) Private Limited 2012

    Cover and book design © Universities Press (India) Private Limited 2012

    ISBN 978 81 7371 825 0

    All rights reserved. No part of the material may be reproduced or utilized in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner. Typeset in Aldine401 BT 11/13 by OSDATA, Hyderabad 500 029

    Printed in India by Graphica Printers and Binders Hyderabad 500 013

    Published by Universities Press (India) Private Limited 3-6-747/1/A & 3-6-754/1 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad 500 029 (A.P.), India

    Front cover photograph: African savannah elephants in Namibia, photograph © Simon Hedges

    Back cover photographs clockwise from top left: African forest elephant in the Congo Basin, photograph © Stephen Blake

    Asian Elephant in Sri Lanka, photograph © Simon Hedges

    Collecting fecal DNA samples for a capture–recapture based survey in Myanmar, photograph © Simon Hedges / WCS

    Measuring the circumference of an elephant’s dung bolus to estimate the age of the elephant, photograph © Riza Marlon / WCS Indonesia Program

  • CONTENTS

    Preface v

    Acknowledgements vii

    Contributors and Reviewers ix

    1. Wildlife Population Monitoring: A Conceptual Framework 1 James D. Nichols and K. Ullas Karanth

    2. Monitoring Needs, Resources and Constraints: Deciding Which Methods to Use 8 Simon Hedges

    3. Distance Sampling along Line Transects: Statistical Concepts and Analysis Options 26 Samantha Strindberg

    4. Estimating Elephant Population Density and Abundance from Dung Pile Density: Theoretical Concepts 61 Simon Hedges

    5. Estimating Abundance and Other Demographic Parameters in Elephant Populations Using Capture–Recapture Sampling: Statistical Concepts 112 K. Ullas Karanth, James D. Nichols and Simon Hedges

    6. Estimating Distribution and Abundances of Elephant Populations from Sign Surveys at the Landscape Scale using Occupancy Modelling: Statistical Concepts 136 K. Ullas Karanth, Simon Hedges, N. Samba Kumar and James D. Nichols

    7. Estimating Density and Abundance of Elephants from Sightings along Line Transects: Field Methods 151 Simon Hedges, N. Samba Kumar, M. S. Nishant and K. Ullas Karanth

    8. Aerial Survey Methods 162 Simon Hedges and Timothy O’Brien

    9. Estimating Elephant Population Density and Abundance from Dung Pile Density: Field Methods 172 Simon Hedges, Fiona Maisels and Stephen Blake

  • iv Contents

    10. Estimating Abundance and Other Demographic Parameters in Elephant Populations Using Capture– Recapture Sampling: Field Practices 214 K. Ullas Karanth, N. Samba Kumar, Varun R. Goswami, James D. Nichols and Simon Hedges

    Annex 10.1 Using Program SPACECAP for Spatially Explicit Analysis of Elephant Capture History Data 238

    11. Estimating Distribution and Abundances of Elephant Populations from Sign Surveys at the Landscape Scale Using Occupancy Modelling: Field Methods 249 K. Ullas Karanth, N. Samba Kumar and M. S. Nishant

    12. Assessing Threats and Monitoring Law Enforcement 259 Emma J Stokes

    13. Using New Methods to Add Value to Old Survey Datasets: Estimating Abundance from Dung Density or Dung Encounter Rates 293 Simon Hedges

    Appendix 1a: Non-Occupancy Survey Datasheets 302

    Appendix 1b: Occupancy Survey Datasheets 307

    Appendix 1c: Protocol for Rangers for Completing MIST Forms 310

    Appendix 2: Equipment Needs for Dung Surveys 316

    Appendix 3: Data Management 319

    Appendix 4: Websites for Free Analytical Software and Other Resources 323

    Appendix 5: Abbreviations, Acronymns and Glossary of Technical Terms 327

  • Wildlife Population Monitoring v

    PREFACE

    Elephants still occur in isolated populations across much of their historical range, but unfortunately their numbers are rapidly declining. The major threats to the continued survival of these species in many places are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, as well as poaching for ivory and other forms of illegal killing or capture—usually as a result of conflicts with humans. Effective monitoring programs, which involve systematic collection of data on the distribution, size and trend of elephant populations, as well as threats such as illegal killing, are needed to provide a rational basis for the management of elephant populations. For example, a major component of the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program is the estimation of elephant population size and trend, with a commitment to long-term population monitoring. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to evaluate the efficacy of current elephant conservation interventions and policies, because rigorous monitoring is absent. As a consequence, in spite of many decades of elephant research and conservation efforts, there are still significant gaps in what we know about the distribution, status and trend of elephant populations, especially in the forests of Southeast Asia and Central Africa. In light of this situation, and considering recent major advances in animal population sampling and monitoring techniques, it was cle