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WILDLIFE MONITORING. Greg Stuart-Hill World Wildlife Fund. This focuses on wildlife (fauna) monitoring. Other natural resource monitoring systems (e.g. veld, fish, forestry) are also important. Are objectives being achieved?. Set objectives (land-use planning).

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wildlife monitoring

Greg Stuart-Hill

World Wildlife Fund

This focuses on wildlife (fauna) monitoring. Other natural resource monitoring systems (e.g. veld, fish, forestry) are also important



objectives being


Set objectives

(land-use planning)

Manage according to objectives


Monitor to see if objectives being achieved


Modify objectives or management

Monitoring is needed for adaptive management

The context:

what should be monitored
What should be monitored?



Trophy Quality

Tourism Satisfaction


Anti-poaching work


Population Estimate

Population Trend

Animal Distribution


--------- WILDLIFE ------------ (All species)

Body Condition

Population Ecol


Problem Animals





(Important species)

1 1 population estimates
1.1 Population Estimates
  • Need: To know how many animals there are, each year.
  • Why?
    • To estimate off-take quotas, and
    • To determine drought risk & livestock competition
  • How?
    • Use road counts/aerial census/cybertracker counts
    • Use correction-factors (eg transect width, distance, etc)
    • For rare species (eg rhino) use known group/individuals


  • Output: ……..a Table for each year!
  • Numbers are very difficult to obtain
    • – most census methods underestimate wildlife populations!
1 2 population trend



Here’s a problem!




1.2 Population Trend

Need: to know what is happening to the wildlife populations.

Why? Is wildlife management sustainable

How?Fixed Foot Patrols, fixed road counts, Cybertracker Counts and Aerial census.

Can use an index! ….... But sampling effort must be controlled ! …..


Output: …provide a graph for each species!

Counts do not have to be ‘accurate’ – a change in an index over time is fine!

Be careful of using the last point on the graph – this could be an error - so check the sex-ageinformation

1 3 game distribution

Lets build a lodge here because this is where most of the game is

Why not put a borehole here to utilize this area

Year 1

Year 10

1.3 Game Distribution

Need a Map showing where each species is concentrated

Why? To identify wildlife concentration areas for land-use planning purposes (also to see monitor distribution changes over the years)

How? Use Cyber tracker or Grid blocks for all sightings (NB also record where animals were not seen)

Data collection:


Land use planning


1 4 sex age ratio monitoring
1.4 Sex-Age Ratio Monitoring

Need to determine ratios between adults, sub-adults an juveniles

Why? Use this information as an early warning of the current ‘health’ of the wildlife population



  • Young: Adult Ratio
  • If the ratio of young to adults diminishes then this is an early warning that the population is in trouble
  • If the ratio between sub-adults and juveniles changes this gives an indication of post breeding survival ability – i.e. useful to evaluate impact of predation
  • Male : Female Ratio
  • It is necessary to know the ratio of Adult male to female because:
  • Live game capture/sale normally results in higher proportions of females - with potentially devastating impacts to the population
  • To properly evaluate breeding success, you need to view number of young in relation to the number of females
  • For input into population modeling which is used to predict population growth and future harvest potential and stocking rates
2 1 mortalities

If sudden Increase

What is going on here? What is causing these abnormally high mortalities?



Output 2:Map showing where mortalities are

Map: Showing mortalities

Need: To keep track of mortalities

Why? To alert management if mortalities suddenly rise & plan action based on the cause (e.g. poaching, disease, drought)

2.1 Mortalities


Output 1:a Trend graph of mortalities over years

Also need to know the cause of mortalities

(i.e. is it due to poaching, disease, drought?)

But only if they these are abnormally high

2 2 poaching
2.2 Poaching

Poaching is getting bad!









1 kudu,

1 duiker




8 kudu,

1 giraffe


Map: Showing where poaching is occurring

Other Citizens


1 kudu

1 leopard

A Table breaking down incidents for each year


1 elephant, 1 rhino

Need: To track poaching as a threat to wildlife

Why? To understand the threat to wildlife and gauge community support for the Conservancy



  • Graph - is poaching being controlled?
  • Map - where poaching is taking place?
  • Table - who is poaching & what is being taken?

If Increasing

2 3 problem animals pac
2.3 Problem Animals (PAC)

Need: To track problem animal incidents, identify those species causing problems, evaluate damage caused & record efforts that go into reducing conflict with problem animals

Why? To understand the impact of wildlife on people & find ways to reduce conflict and compensate individuals.

How? Keep record of all PAC incidents. Track attempts to reduce conflict (e.g. fencing, water protection, kraaling).


  • Output:
2 4 rainfall
2.4 Rainfall

Its been a good season!


Map: Showing where rainfall occurred

Need: To track rainfall as a threat & opportunity for wildlife

Why? To separate the effects of rainfall from the impacts of human activity on wildlife and help explain population trend



  • A Graph – is rainfall above or below average?
  • A Map - where did rain fall or not fall?
2 5 disturbance e g livestock cropping tourists
2.5 Disturbance (e.g. livestock, cropping, tourists)

Disturbance is affecting the elephants

Need: To track other land-use activities such as cropping, livestock farming, tourist activity

Why? To understand the threat of these disturbances and gauge if these have impacted on wildlife

  • Data Collection:
  • Map areas of cropping and livestock farming
  • Map areas of tourism activity and keep track of tourism numbers on various roads
  • Record ‘flight’ distance (at what distance does game raun away from a vehicle) of game on an annual basis
  • Record how far wildlife will come within a homestead
  • Keep a note if animals only drink at night


  • Graph - Relate an index of disturbance (e.g. ‘flight distance’ to indices of human impacts (e.g. settlement, tourism, etc).
  • Map - Also compare wildlife distribution maps with maps of human activity.
3 1 game introductions removals
3.1 Game Introductions & Removals

Need: To keep a record of how many animals are Introduced or Removed

Why? To know if continued Introductions/Removals are wise, & explain any changes in the population trend-graphs

How? Keep a record of all animals that are Introduced and all animals that are Removed from the area.

  • Output: ………..a Table for each year!

** Need to also check on success of each introduction

  • Also refer to the following pages in this manual for:
  • Game Removals
  • Game introductions
  • These pages will explain in greater detail the ‘Removal’ and ‘Introduction’ monitoring systems
3 1 1 game removals harvesting
3.1.1 Game Removals (“Harvesting”)
  • How?
  • Each time animals are removed (sold or hunted) keep a record of:
    • how many animals are removed against quota
    • sex of removed animals
    • for animals hunted, record trophies
  • Output: …..a Table for each year!
  • (see ‘TrophyQuality’ in the manual)
3 1 2 game introductions



If Survival Rates are less than 90% for a species then a mortality report should be attached to the table

If Breeding Rates are less than a critical level (level varies per species) then this indicates that a species will not thrive even though it survived survived the introduction event

3.1.2 Game Introductions
  • How?
  • 1. Keep a record of how many animals are introduced
  • 2. Also check on the success (i.e. survival & breeding) of each introduction by :
    • Conducting sex-age survey to determine ratios between adult females and young (see ‘sex-age monitoring’ in this manual)
    • Monitor marked (collared) animals to determine survival rates and ensure they are still in the area.
  • Output: …Distribution map and a Table
3 2 trophy quality




Trophy (L)

Trophy (R)



Lower the elephant quota! - we have taken too many. Hunters can only find small tuskers

Tusk Size


3.2 Trophy Quality

Need: to track change in Trophy Quality (e.g. tusk/horn size)

Why? Trophy hunting will not affect wildlife population growth (excluding predators), but too much hunting results in poor trophy size - this leads to a lower concession value.

How? From trophy hunter records



…provide a trophy size trend graph for each species, over years!

3 3 tourist satisfaction


Sighting index

Comments of sighting satisfaction per species

We should re-introduce lions - they are key to tourism and are not being seen anymore

If we reduce elephant numbers it will save us a lot of damage and have no effect on game viewing





  • Need to track game viewing success (i.e. number of sightings, number of species, etc).
  • Why?
    • know game viewing potential for planing & marketing,
    • to evaluate whether each animal population is at adequate numbers to satisfy tourists.
    • to assess whether a problem species could be reduced without harming game viewing
3.3 Tourist Satisfaction



… provide a ‘game viewing success’ graph for each species, over years!

3 4 water points

Bore #



Protection against

Presently working?

Comments, including repairs if any

Damage by?




3.4 Water Points

Need: to closely monitor and repair any water installation, particularly in the dry season.

Why? Water is critical to wildlife, people and livestock. There is considerable conflict around this resource and so it is essential to ensure that water installations function.

How? Each water point should be visited on a regular basis and if necessary repairs made immediately.

4 1 important species population performance

Rhino inter-calving period is suddenly increasing. There seems to be a problem ?

Months between calves


4.1 Important Species: Population Performance

Need: To to track population performance of species such as predators, elephant, rhino, disease free buffalo, etc

Why? To know how many there are and how their populations are performing.

How? Normal count methods do not work for rare or nocturnal species. Use specially designed systems (e.g. radio tracking, known group). This usually involves specialist research teams from MET, SRT, etc.


4 2 important species body condition

Lets provide extra feed for the buffalo!

I foresee problems this winter

Body Fat


4.2 Important Species: Body-Condition

Need: To track body condition of critical species such as Rhino, disease free Buffalo, Roan, etc

Why? To serve as an early warning of a nutritional (drought) problem.

How? Estimate body fat on a sample of animals each month and graph.