AHEAD Update – December 2011 / January & February 2012

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

*Welcome to the first AHEAD Update heading into 2012. Please note that URL hotlinks for many of the organizations mentioned below can be found at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/links.html. If you would like to post an item in the next AHEAD Update, please just send it to us- thanks.


Foot and mouth disease occurrence in southern Africa shows a worrying upward trend, with unusual patterns of transboundary spread that can only be unraveled with a strategic linking of conventional and molecular epidemiology, drawing from robust field data. Download the latest truly thought-provoking Bulletin (3rd Edition) here: http://www.foot-and-mouth.org/open-documents/SSFB3.pdf/view.


*Beauty and the Beef: Achieving Compatibility Between Wildlife Conservation and Livestock Production (This 22 minute video is a must-see!) – African farmers living in areas with wildlife are faced with a serious dilemma: they cannot sell their healthy, free range beef to the lucrative export market. Current international trade practices dictate that they cannot protect the wildlife and, at the same time, farm their cattle in the same general area. If they want to export their beef to wealthy nations, they will have to get rid of all the wild buffalo or put up environmentally damaging veterinary fences. Robin Lyonga lives in the spectacular and largely unspoiled environment of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. He and his community are poor. What should he choose when trying to lift himself and his community out of poverty: protecting the wildlife and pursuing opportunities related to ecotourism and trophy hunting, or turning his back on conservation and selling his cattle into the lucrative beef export market? The truth is that there is a win-win solution: Robin Lyonga and his community can earn an income from conservation and sell their beef to the export market. All that is needed to enable this potentially bright future for millions of African cattle farmers is a small change in attitude on the part of wealthy trading nations. Watch the video by clicking on the Beauty and the Beef image on the AHEAD homepage at http://www.wcs-ahead.org.


*Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) Links Biodiversity Conservation with Sustainable Improvements in Livelihoods and Food Production (2011), Lewis D, Bell SD, Fay J, Bothi KL, Gatere L, Kabila M, Mukamba M, Matokwani E, Mushimbalume M, Moraru CI, Lehmann J, Lassoie J, Wolfe D, Lee DR, Buck L, and Travis AJ, PNAS, 108, 13957-13962 – In the Luangwa Valley, Zambia, persistent poverty and hunger present linked challenges to rural development and biodiversity conservation. Both household coping strategies and larger-scale economic development efforts have caused severe natural resource degradation that limits future economic opportunities and endangers ecosystem services. A model based on a business infrastructure has been developed to promote and maintain sustainable agricultural and natural resource management practices, leading to direct and indirect conservation outcomes. The Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) model operates primarily with communities surrounding national parks, strengthening conservation benefits produced by these protected areas. COMACO first identifies the least food-secure households and trains them in sustainable agricultural practices that minimize threats to natural resources while meeting household needs. In addition, COMACO identifies people responsible for severe natural resource depletion and trains them to generate alternative income sources. In an effort to maintain compliance with these practices, COMACO provides extension support and access to high-value markets that would otherwise be inaccessible to participants. Because the model is continually evolving via adaptive management, success or failure of the model as a whole is difficult to quantify at this early stage. We therefore test specific hypotheses and present data documenting the stabilization of previously declining wildlife populations; the meeting of thresholds of productivity that give COMACO access to stable, high-value markets and progress toward economic self-sufficiency; and the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices by participants and other community members. Together, these findings describe a unique, business-oriented model for poverty alleviation, food production, and biodiversity conservation. See http://www.pnas.org/content/108/34/13957.full for access to the full paper.

*African Wild Ungulates Compete with or Facilitate Cattle Depending on Season (2011), Odadi WO, Karachi MK, Abdulrazak SA, Young TP, Science, 333: 1753-1755 – Savannas worldwide are vital for both socioeconomic and biodiversity values. In these ecosystems, management decisions are based on the perception that wildlife and livestock compete for food, yet there are virtually no experimental data to support this assumption. We examined the effects of wild African ungulates on cattle performance, food intake, and diet quality. Wild ungulates depressed cattle food intake and performance during the dry season (competition) but enhanced cattle diet quality and performance during the wet season (facilitation). These results extend our understanding of the context-dependent–competition-facilitation balance, in general, and are critical for better understanding and managing wildlife-livestock coexistence in human-occupied savanna landscapes.See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6050/1753.abstract

*Coexisting with Cattle (2011) duToit JT, Science, 333: 1710-1711 – Many large plant-eating mammals have evolved to live in multispecies assemblages, with species competing for food and other resources. Through domestication and animal husbandry, however, humans have enabled a few species of livestock, such as cattle, to dominate such assemblages. One standard practice in livestock production on rangelands, espoused by commercial ranchers and subsistence pastoralists alike, is the eradication of large, indigenous herbivores that are believed to compete with livestock for food. These eradication efforts have increasingly problematic implications for biodiversity conservation. So it is timely that on page 1753 of this issue, Odadi et al. (abstract above) report on a relatively simple experiment that tested the assumption that cattle and wildlife compete for food. Their study, conducted in an East African savanna renowned for its large herbivore diversity, revealed that cattle do compete with herbivores such as zebras and gazelles during the dry season, when food quantity is low. In contrast, during the wet season, when food quantity is high, grazing by wildlife benefits cattle by improving the quality of forage. The findings highlight ecological processes that promote coexistence among large herbivores in grasslands and savannas, and hence could be useful for conservation. See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6050/1710

*Experiences of Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (2011), Leal Filho W, (Ed.), Springer – Few regions in the world are as vulnerable as Africa in respect of the impacts of climate change. Whereas industrialized countries have the financial means and technologies to adapt, the majority of African nations struggle to cope with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, especially in respect of increased temperatures, droughts and rainfall shortages. This new book explores the dimensions of climate change adaptation in Africa and presents a number of projects and initiatives, which show that adaptation is possible, and worth pursuing. It is a useful source of information for practitioners, members of international organizations, NGOs, aid agencies, ministries, researchers and anyone interested in knowing more about the realities of climate change adaptation in Africa. Further details are available at: http://www.springer.com/economics/environmental/book/978-3-642-22314-3

*Conservation Enterprise: What Works, Where and for Whom (2011) Elliott J and Sumba D, IIED, 24pp – Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) recognises that local communities are often best placed to conserve natural resources, as long as they stand to gain more than they lose from doing so. Conservation enterprises—commercial activities generating economic and social benefits in ways that help meet conservation objectives—seek to reinforce these incentives. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has adopted conservation enterprise as a core part of its conservation strategy since the 1990s. It predominantly supports partnerships between local communities and the private sector, with the community retaining ownership and the private sector providing the management expertise and paying a combination of fixed and variable fees to the community for access to its resources. This study draws on the experience of the AWF and other organisations to assess what effect conservation enterprises can have on the livelihoods of local communities and how effective such initiatives are at poverty reduction. It finds that most of these enterprises cannot by themselves take people out of poverty, but can provide less tangible benefits, such as increased investment in health and education, strengthened community organisations and greater resilience in difficult times. A successful conservation enterprise needs to strike a balance between harnessing local skills and entrepreneurship and ensuring that the benefits are felt by the entire local community, particularly those who make the decisions about resource use. Some programmes can be specifically targeted at particular groups, but enterprises providing employment tend not to favour the poorest community members and the benefits may be captured by local elites. The evidence also shows that well-designed conservation enterprises can improve the conservation of some types of land areas and key, high value species—such as mountain gorillas—but are less effective at conserving biodiversity with a lower market value. Freely downloadable at: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/14613IIED.pdf

Again, if you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let us know – thanks.

"What is AHEAD?" Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa, the Wildlife Conservation Society, IUCN, and a range of partners tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent- and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programs addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and donors who see the intrinsic value of what WCS has called the “One World, One Health” approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, and human health and livelihoods. We convene stakeholders, help delineate conceptual frameworks to underpin planning, management and research, and provide technical support and resources for projects stakeholders identify as priorities. AHEAD recognizes the need to look at health and disease not in isolation but within a given region's environmental and socioeconomic context.

All the best,

Steve, Mark & Shirley