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Modeling harvest rates and numbers from age and sex ratios: A demonstration for elephant populations

Chelliah, Karpagam and Bukka, Harshvardhan and Sukumar, Raman (2013) Modeling harvest rates and numbers from age and sex ratios: A demonstration for elephant populations. In: Biological Conservation, 165 . pp. 54-61.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.05.008


Illegal harvest rates of wildlife populations are often unknown or difficult to estimate from field data due to under-reporting or incomplete detection of carcasses. This is especially true for elephants that are killed for ivory or in conflicts with people. We describe a method to infer harvest rates from coarse field data of three population parameters, namely, adult female to male ratio, male old-adult to young-adult ratio, and proportion of adult males in the population using Jensen's (2000) 2-sex, density-dependent Leslie matrix model. The specific combination of male and female harvest rates and numbers can be determined from the history of harvest and estimate of population size. We applied this technique to two populations of elephants for which data on age structure and records of mortality were available-a forest-dwelling population of the Asian elephant (at Nagarahole, India) and an African savannah elephant population (at Samburu, Kenya) that had experienced male-biased harvest regimes over 2-3 decades. For the Nagarahole population, the recorded numbers of male and female elephants killed illegally during 1981-2000 were 64% and 88% of the values predicted by the model, respectively, implying some non-detection or incomplete reporting while for the Samburu population the recorded and modeled numbers of harvest during 1990-1999 closely matched. This technique, applicable to any animal population following logistic growth model, can be especially useful for inferring illegal harvest numbers of forest elephants in Africa and Asia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Biological Conservation
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier Science.
Keywords: Age Structure; Elephant; Illegal Killings; Ivory Poaching; Logistic Growth; Population Dynamics
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Neuroscience
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2013 06:17
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2013 06:17
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/47478

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