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Study looks at gorillas, elephants and logging in Congo
Date:5/6/2010

and gorillas. However, the authors warn that logging concessions are only of conservation value if there are strict anti-poaching measures in place, and if they are close to protected areas free of human disturbance. As evidence, the study showed the results of surveys in a logging concession without any anti-poaching measures or wildlife management where abundance of all three species was very low.

"Protected areas free of human disturbance, logging, or roads remain key to the protection of great apes and elephants," said WCS researcher Emma Stokes, the study's lead author. "Landscape conservation should focus on protected areas surrounded by other land-use types that also have wildlife management in place."

The forests of the Congo Basin are one of the last remaining tropical wildernesses and a top priority for biodiversity conservation.

Commercial logging is prevalent throughout much of the Congo Basin, with over 30 percent of native forest allocated to logging concessions compared to only 12 percent under protection. More than 50 percent of the current range of western gorillas and chimpanzees is estimated to lie in active logging concessions.

"This study shows that landscape-wide conservation can work in Central Africa provided there are the resources and political will to save wildlife over large areas," said James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Africa programs. "Conservation on this scale is difficult and expensive, but absolutely necessary if we hope to save viable populations of elephants and great apes. At the same time, the government's capacity to follow up and take legal action against poachers should be strengthened and is a key to maintaining the protection of the forests and their wildlife."

The authors estimated elephant and great ape density using distance sampling surveys of elephant dung piles and great ape nests.

The surveys presented in this paper were made possible
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Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert

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