Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Janet Nackoney1, Jena Hickey2, David Williams3, Charly Facheux4 and Jef Dupain4, (1)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (2)International Gorilla Conservation Program, Musanze, Rwanda, (3)African Wildlife Foundation, Washington, DC, United States, (4)African Wildlife Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya
The bonobo (Pan paniscus), a great ape that is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2007. Hunting and habitat loss are primary threats. Two recent wars and ongoing conflicts in the DRC have resulted in political and economic instability that hampers on-the-ground work, thereby accentuating the importance of spatial data and maps as tools for monitoring threats remotely and prioritizing locations for safeguarding bonobo habitat. Several regional and rangewide efforts have leveraged the utility of existing spatial data to help focus limited resources for effective broad-scale conservation of these great apes. At local scales, we developed spatial models to identify locations of highest hunting pressure, predict future human settlement and agricultural expansion, map areas of highest conservation value to bonobos, and identify the connective corridors linking them. We identified 42 least-disturbed wildland blocks meeting the minimum home range size needed for bonobos, and 32 potential corridors. At the range-wide scale, we developed a first range-wide spatial model of suitable conditions for the bonobo; this was a major contribution to the development of a Bonobo Conservation Strategy for 2012-2022, recently published by IUCN. The model used a forest edge density metric and other biotic and abiotic variables in conjunction with bonobo nest data collected during 2003-2010 by over 40 bonobo researchers. Approximately 28% of the range was predicted suitable; of that, about 27.5% was located in official protected areas. Highlighting these examples, this presentation will discuss the conservation status of bonobos and how spatial data and models are being utilized for the formation of strategic conservation plans.