Grassroots Community Engagement: A Critical Tool for Global Wildlife Conservation

ROOM: HCCC, Room 23
Global wildlife conservation cannot happen in a vacuum. Wildlife exist in landscapes increasingly impacted by humans and for conservation actions to be successful, meaningful, and long-lasting, local communities need to be involved in the process. Around the world, there are multiple examples of innovative, community based education and conservation initiatives that are redefining our definition of wildlife and landscape conservation; from protected areas void of humans, to models of informed coexistence. We present a symposium that illustrates examples of grassroots community-based wildlife conservation programs around the world that demonstrate how effective conservation begins with the education of and participation by local community stakeholders.

12:50PM Sociological and Psychological Models Can Be Used to Assess Community-Based Solutions to Human-Wildlife Conflict, with Examples From Africa
  Michael Stokes; Daniel DeCaro; Jerry Daday
The need for wildlife conservation is not usually a problem of ecology but an anthropogenic problem. To address conservation issues, we must address the human problems that pressure ecosystems. Community-based conservation is a modern concept, but failed attempts are common, likely because many of these attempts do not build upon established models of human conduct, or do not obviate perceived risk in a community. The disciplines of psychology and sociology do employ such models to modify human behaviors. Two useful models are self- determination theory from psychology and community interactional theory from sociology. Self-determination theory in the form of autonomy-supportive environment explains the need for perception of local control in development of grass-roots initiatives, while interactional theory defines the likelihood that a community can be successful in responding to a risk, based on socioeconomic and biophysical vulnerability, and perceived risk. We combine the two theories into a proposed approach for assessing the potential success of and developing community-based wildlife management projects, illustrated with examples from an area of high human-wildlife conflict in SE Kenya.
1:10PM Andean Bear-Human Conflicts: Identification of Socio-economic Triggers of Conflicts in Rural Communities in the East Range of Colombia
  I. Mauricio Vela-Vargas
Habitat loss is a major threat to Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) in the Andean region of Colombia. Resulting habitat loss in this region has escalated negative interactions between human communities and wildlife, especially carnivores. Livestock predation and scavenging by bears are considered as negative interactions. These conflicts directly affect local rural economies, and farmers are prone to invest in poor conflict management misguided by anecdotal knowledge such illegal hunting. Our objectives were to identify human perceptions of native wildlife and the causal factors of Andean bear-human conflicts to inform the best management actions and identify conflict social dynamics in the Chingaza Massif, Colombia. We conducted 64 questionnaire surveys in high-risk conflict areas identified through geographical modelling in the Calvario municipality (Colombia). Roughly 35% of people declined to participate because they did not trust due to past experiences in government agencies and other organizations that performed previous projects. On average, farmers maintain 16 cows and 29 sheep across an average of 18 hectares by farm. In this area of the Chingaza Massif, the main domestic species attacked by wildlife are sheep, with an average economic loss of 2500 USD for sheep and 1200 USD for cows. We found that, that 99% of the times, people do not take management actions in the breeding season for domestic animals and the variable that explained best the conflicts dynamics were the number of days that the domestic animals were unsupervised (between 3 and 45 days). The status of the fences in each farm was an important variable that explained the conflict, 75% of the ranchers expressed that the fences were in a bad or regular status. One of the key problems identified was the absence of technical assistance by governmental agencies to ranchers, and the lack of responses during negative human-bear interactions.
1:30PM Milkweed Pods to Monarch Flower-Ohio’s Collaborative Contribution to the National Stem Count
  Lori Stevenson; Marci Lininger
In 2014 the Monarch butterfly was petitioned to be federally listed as a threatened species. When this news hit Ohio, we knew that it would take a large collaborative effort to restore habitat across the State providing enough habitat to boost the Monarch butterfly population across Ohio and the Upper Midwest. In addition, we wanted our efforts to have longevity and provide not only vital host plant habitat for Monarchs but also provide essential stopover/nectar habitat for the Monarch butterfly and other native pollinator species. This kind of undertaking needed to have “All Hands on Deck” and was an opportunity to engage the public in a grassroots effort that would allow all Ohioans to take ownership of the landscape and play a vital role in this habitat restoration effort. Through considerable communication and numerous outreach activities, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative has engaged communities across the State to raise awareness about the amazing migratory journey of the Monarch butterfly and the important role pollinators play for a healthy sustainable food supply. We are excited to share our story of how Ohio started our amazing journey, engaging all Ohioans to collect common milkweed pods, and the partnerships we have established to clean, package and redistribute this important resource back across the State.
1:50PM Testing Alternative Livelihoods to Help Protect Endangered Fishing Cats and Their Small, Fragmented Mangrove Habitat Patches in Coastal Andhra Pradesh, India
  Pranav S. Tamarapalli; Vivek Rachuri; Nagaraju Vuyyuri; Srikanth Mannepuri; Ashwin Naidu
In coastal Andhra Pradesh in India, deforestation and aquaculture threaten unprotected mangrove forests and several vulnerable species that inhabit them, e.g. fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) and smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata). A feasible strategy to conserve these unprotected mangroves is to provide human communities with alternative and sustainable livelihoods. One idea that can potentially curb deforestation is the sustainable harvest of mangrove crabs (Scylla serrata) with crab-culture boxes in naturally occurring water channels among mangroves. This idea is also a low investment alternative to commercial aquaculture ponds that are more expensive to maintain, pollute natural waters, and are prone to income losses due to soil infertility. To test this idea, we are collaborating with local communities from two villages, Samanthakuru and Bendamurlanka, located near two unprotected mangrove patches sized ~1.5 sq. km. each in the Godavari River Delta. We plan to use two comparable methods to test the culture of mangrove crabs. As part of the first method, we will place 40 crab boxes in naturally occurring water creeks among existing mangroves. In each box, we will place one mangrove crab-let and use PVC pipes to keep boxes afloat and partially submerged. We will provide fodder to the crab-lets through premade holes in the boxes and monitor crabs daily. We will measure salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen in water channels weekly. We will continue this process for five months by when we expect crabs to grow up to a marketable size of ~1 kg assuming favorable conditions. As part of the second method, we will test mangrove crab culture in constructed water channels in abandoned aquaculture farms that have the potential to be restored into mangroves. We expect that harvested crabs will provide sustainable income to local communities and encourage them to restore and protect mangroves.
2:10PM A Visual Ethnographic Study of Fishing Cat Conservation in Andhra Pradesh, India
  Sujeevan Bullard; Mallika Vijayakumar; Srikanth Mannepuri; Ashwin Naidu
Visuals attract attention, enhance emotions, influenceattitudes,and can remain in the subconscious for long periods.Charismatic animals like the tiger and other big cats have long drawn our attention and continue to influence people toward their conservation. However, comparatively less attention has been given to lesser-known animals, particularly to smaller cats like the fishing cat, which is probably as endangered as the tiger. Additionally, for conservation efforts to succeed, human communities that live next to endangered animals and their habitats need to be involved in actions that benefit both human and animal livelihoods – this process can be enhanced through ethnographic studies, participatory communication, and educational visuals. With a visual ethnographic approach, we chose to film a documentary on conservation efforts for the fishing cat in the mangrove forests outside protected areas in coastal Andhra Pradesh, India during 2016-2018.As part of our ongoing endeavour to help protect fishing cats in this region, we are replicating the documentary in the local language, Telugu, to educate local people on the importance of protecting mangroves, whichcan provide them with alternative sources of income and a sustainable livelihood. We also sought and educated fishing cat poachers about the importance of utilizing their skills to protect the fishing cat and its mangrove habitat. We hope that such ethnographic documentaries and participatory studies can create reference stories that can influence people at the local, regional and global scales to implement win-win conservation strategies.
2:30PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM How Environmental Entrepreneurship Is Empowering Local Communities to Address Livelihood Sustainability and Global Conservation Goals
  Ashwin Naidu
Looking through the lens of a social entrepreneur, we can clearly see some simple and powerful solutions to pressing problems in the field of wildlife conservation. In this talk, I reemphasize stories of the boys who harnessed the wind and made peace with lions in Africa, the men who reforested thousands of acres of forests in Asia, and the local communities willing to pursue alternative livelihoods for sustainability. I then talk about how entrepreneurship and business ideas can bring about win-win-win solutions to problems like human-wildlife conflicts, climate change, natural disasters, and species conservation. However, as with any great idea, failures are only a step away. But with tenacity, taking action, getting past hurdles, adaptation, and iteration, successful solutions are probably just countable steps away.
3:40PM The Black Mambas of Balule: A Long-Term Approach to Community Buy-In
  Anthony R. Paquin
Balule Nature Reserve (BNR) in the Limpopo province of South Africa is a ca. 44,000 ha reserve formed of a network of private lands that are shareblocked and open to Kruger National Park (KNP). Together with several other reserves, BNR is part of the 1733 km2 Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR). Unlike in KNP proper, limited hunting and other extractive uses of wildlife are practiced on the APNR. Private reserves are responsible for antipoaching activities, and many of them now contract with commercial operators. Because of the intensity and nature of poaching activities, and the cost of interdicting poachers, in 2013, Transfrontier Africa, led by Craig Spencer, formed the Black Mambas; a corps of young, female rangers from the local communities (a common source of poachers). These young women receive the same physical and firearms training as their male counterparts, but approach antipoaching very differently. Although they conduct patrols (unarmed) on the reserve, they also interact with local schools, assist researchers on BNR, and provide an appealing and nonthreatening icon for the Reserve’s conservation efforts. In recognition of their success, the Black Mambas were awarded the United Nations Environmental Programme’s prestigious Champions of the Earth award in 2015. Although, the unit has received most of the attention for their patrols, an argument could be made that ultimately their greatest asset is their Bush Babies Environmental Education Program which is a long-term antipoaching intervention designed to develop a conservation philosophy within the local communities by educating the future leaders of the communities (i.e., the children). Since its creation in 2015, the program has involved over 2,000 children. This combination of proximal and distal community interventions would appear to increase the potential effectiveness of antipoaching efforts.
4:00PM Narco-conservation; community-based conservation in neoliberal times
  Rodrigo F. Rentería-Valencia
Community-based conservation is at an era of upheaval. Increasing dialogue and collaboration between the social and biological sciences strengthens the design of long-term conservation initiatives. Yet, the contemporary neoliberal regimes (where biological life or the “services they provide” are assigned a price in a free-market capitalist environment) that govern local economies worldwide can produce unexpected departures from the assumption that conservation efforts and black-market economies are always located at opposite ends of a continuum. This presentation offers a case study were both instances aligned around the same intentionality. To make my case, I build upon some of the major findings of my doctoral research devoted to analyzing the social effects of neoliberal conservation among indigenous peoples. Based on extended ethnographic fieldwork among a former hunting and gathering society living along the coast of the Gulf of California in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico, I first set out to document the creation and implementation of a bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) sport-trophy hunting program. The initial displacement of the indigenous population in the mid-twenty century to create a conservation area, the introduction of bighorn sheep on this reserve, the granting of land-tenure rights to the local people, and the market-based vision of a binational collaboration between NGOs and academic institutions to implement a hunting/management program are all necessary elements to explain the fortuitous involvement of drug-dealers in the management of this lauded effort—a logical consequence of the commodification of wildlife. The reasons and effects behind the articulation of narco and conservation efforts will constitute the core of this presentation. The intent here is that by examining the limits and potential of community-based conservation under free-markets regimes, this presentation thus sets the baseline to start analyzing a troubling, nascent phenomenon which we can start referring to as narco-conservation.
4:20PM Providing Education to Enhance Wildlife Conservation in South Africa Through the First Wildlife School for Game Ranchers – a Grassroots Effort.
  David L. Bergman; Nico Avenant; Francoais Schutte; Michael J. Bodenchuck
The establishment of the game ranching industry in South Africa has resulted in the conversion of 20 million hectares of marginal agricultural land to an economically viable and conservation oriented industry. The single biggest driving factor in the growth of the game ranching industry in South Africa was the promulgation of the Game Theft Act 105 of 1991 which conferred private ownership of game. Due to the Act, wildlife became economically viable and were managed according to the creation of this new market. The growth in game animals has reached its highest point since 1850 with over 20 million animals. In 1992, South Africa signed the International Convention on Biodiversity whereby the country committed itself to a goal of 12% of the country would be preserved for wildlife biodiversity by 2021. By 2016, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) had determined that South Africa’s terrestrial protected area fell far short of the 12% agreed upon by the country. The DEA had determined that South Africa would have to depend on the assistance and conservation of the game ranching industry in order to meet the 12% target. The wildlife industry is loaded with many unknowns. In 2017, a group of game ranchers decided a wildlife school was needed to address utilizing natural resources in a manner that supports sustainability and improves economic prospects while upholding conservation ethics. To help unify the industry and address the unknowns, the first WILDSKOOL was developed to provide direct face to face education. The school included experts from industry, conservation, veterinary management, nutrition, predation, resource users, wildlife transport, marketing, and government officials. The wildlife school brought in well over 100 attendees. Efforts are in place to continue the wildlife school on an annual basis due to the success of the first school.
4:40PM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Jonathan Derbridge, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Melissa Merrick, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Allie Burnett, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Claire Crow, Bureau of Land Management, Tucson, AZ
Supported by: Native Peoples Working Group; International Wildlife Management Working Group

Location: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Date: October 9, 2018 Time: 12:50 pm - 5:00 pm