, Volume 184, Issue 11, pp 7001-7011

Game over! Wildlife collapse in northern Central African Republic

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Abstract

The wildlife populations of northern Central African Republic (CAR) have long suffered intense uncontrolled hunting. Socio-political turmoil in northern CAR that started in 2002 resulted in a rebellion in 2006. An aerial sample count was carried out in northern CAR after the ceasefire to assess the impact of this troubled period on wildlife. The survey was flown at the end of the dry season in February–March 2010. It covered a landscape complex of 95,000 km² comprising national parks, hunting reserves and community hunting areas. Comparison with earlier surveys revealed a dramatic decline of wildlife: the numbers of large mammals fell by 94% in 30 years, probably due to poaching, loss of habitat and diseases brought by illegal movements of cattle. Elephant (Loxodonta africana), Reduncinae and topi (Damaliscus lunatus) populations showed the greatest decline (each over 90%). Other species declined by 70–80% during the same period. The future of wildlife in this area is dark without a strong commitment to provide adequate funding and quickly implement of determined field management. Reinforced cooperation with neighbouring Chad and Sudan is required since they are facing similar problems.