Human disease hinders anti-poaching efforts in Indian nature reserves
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Where hunting pressure is high, anti-poaching efforts are often crucial for protecting native wildlife populations in nature reserves. However, many reserves suffer from inadequate support and provisioning of staff, especially in developing nations. In Pakke Tiger Reserve in northeastern India, we found that malarial infection is a serious hindrance for front-line patrolling staff that limits the time they can spend in the field. We assessed the consequences of malaria both for local people and park staff in the general region and its indirect effects on wildlife protection. To accomplish this we compiled data from annual epidemiological records of malaria, the number of malaria cases and associated mortality, financial costs, and loss of time spent patrolling. Over a 4-year period (2006–2009), the majority (71%) of forest department staff in Pakke Tiger Reserve suffered from malaria. Malaria treatments cost park managers nearly 3% of their total budget and caused a net loss of 44,160 man hours of anti-poaching effort. The government forest and health departments involved in the employment and health of park staff have separate missions and responsibilities, yet our findings show that a multi-disciplinary approach to conservation is essential to avoid overall systemic failure.
► We examined the effects of malaria on anti-poaching staff and its consequences for park protection. ► We focussed particularly on protected areas in northeastern India that suffer from significant wildlife poaching. ► Malaria had a measurable impact on the health of forest department staff, park budgets, and anti-poaching efforts. ► Simple, short-term measures, such as the distribution of insecticide-treated nets, reduced infection rates among park staff. ► An ultimate solution is to improve health services and ensure better coordination between forest and health services.
Article type Research article
Authors : Velho N, Srinivasan U, Prashanth NS & Laurance WF
Journal: Biological Conservation
Submission date : 18 March 2011
Acceptance date : 4 June 2011
Publication date : 15 July 2011