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Photo album tells story of wildlife decline
Date:8/31/2010

ile park contains the last remaining tracts of protected lowland forest in Sumatra important habitat for large mammals including Sumatran tigers, rhinoceros, and Asian elephants. It is also threatened by poaching, illegal logging, and agriculture.

After running the statistical analysis of some 5,450 images of 25 mammals and one terrestrial bird species photographed throughout the park, the Wildlife Picture Index showed a net decline of 36 percent of the park's biodiversity. In addition, the analysis revealed that wildlife loss outpaced the rate of deforestation; and that large, commercially valuable wildlife such as tigers, rhinos, and elephants declined faster than small primates and deer, which are only hunted only as crop raiders or for subsistence.

The authors not only believe the WPI can be used to assess biodiversity in large ecosystems throughout the world, it can also help redefine how camera traps have been used for wildlife conservation.

"The Wildlife Picture Index will allow conservationists to accurately measure biodiversity in areas that previously have been either too expensive, or logistically prohibitive," said John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science. "We believe that this new methodology will be able to fill critical gaps in knowledge of wildlife diversity while providing much-needed baseline data to assess success or failure in places where we work."

"We expect that the Wildlife Picture Index can be implemented and maintained as a relatively low cost per species monitored and provide important insights into the fate of rainforest and savannah biodiversity," O'Brien said.


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Contact: Stephen sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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