Abstract: Depressed mammal densities characterize the interior of many Southeast Asian protected areas, and are the result of commercial and subsistence hunting. Local people are part of this problem but can participate in solutions through improved partnerships that incorporate local knowledge into problem diagnosis. The process of involving local people helps build a constituency that is more aware of its role (positive and negative) in a protected area and generates site‐specific conservation assessments for management planning. We illustrate the practical details of initiating such a partnership through our work in a Thai wildlife sanctuary. Many protected areas in Southeast Asia present similar opportunities. In local workshops, village woodsmen were led through ranking exercises to develop a spatially explicit picture of 20‐year trends in the abundance of 31 mammal species and to compare species‐specific causes for declines. Within five taxonomic groups, leaf monkeys (primates), porcupines (rodents), tigers (large carnivores), civets (small carnivores), and elephants (ungulates) had declined most severely (37–74%). Commercial hunting contributed heavily to extensive population declines for most species, and subsistence hunting was locally significant for some small carnivores, leaf monkeys, and deer. Workshops thus clarified which species were at highest risk of local extinction, where the most threatened populations were, and causes for these patterns. Most important, they advanced a shared problem definition, thereby unlocking opportunities for collaboration. As a result, local people and sanctuary managers have increased communication, initiated joint monitoring and patrolling, and established wildlife recovery zones. Using local knowledge has limitations, but the process of engaging local people promotes collaborative action that large mammals in Southeast Asia need.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2006
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