Trip to South Africa

I visited South Africa for meeting up with collaborators from SANParks and discuss future research work with Prof. Rob Slotow from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Specifically, I attended a workshop on Sustainable and Health Food System in Durban about how to enhance food diversity sustainably without affecting the environment. I then spent last week in Kruger National Park, working with Dr. Sam Ferreira, the large mammal ecologist at SANParks on issues around illegal wildlife trade.

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New job opening on illegal wildlife trade!

Post-doc or PhD student with a background in data/computer science to work with me on issues around illegal wildlife trade. Please read full job description here: post_doc_dept_of_geos_january_2017. Contact me at: enrico.di.minin@helsinki.fi for more informationRhino (2 of 1)

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New paper out in Conservation Letters!

Traditional survey methods to assess preferences for biodiversity can be costly and time consuming. Can we use, instead, social media to understand tourists´ preferences for nature-based experiences in protected areas? Read our new paper (accepted paper, so uncorrected proofs) in Conservation Letters to find out.

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Interview for Helsingin Sanomat on trophy hunting

How can trophy hunting contribute to biodiversity conservation? In an article published in TREE last year, I analyzed the pros and cons of trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, following the controversial killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, and made recommendations how to make trophy hunting more sustainable, including suggestions for certification schemes. In a follow up popular article published in The Conversation, these concepts were explained in a simpler way for a broader audience. Views on the topic are of course polarized, with great emphasis, as it should be, on animal welfare concerns. I was interviewed by the main newspaper in Finland (sorry only in Finnish and not in English), the Helsingin Sanomat, in an article published on the 4th of January.

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ResearchGate interview

The project Investigating illegal wildlife trade: innovative approaches to inform global conservation policy is getting more attention, as I was interviewed by ResearchGate for their news blog. Here is a link

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Interview for the Academy of Finland

A new interview on my project Investigating illegal wildlife trade: innovative approaches to inform global conservation policy that appeared on the Academy of Finland webpage

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Press release: Ecotourists contribute to elephant conservation

Elephants continue to decline at unprecedented rates across the African continent due to the illegal killing of elephants for their ivory. However, in southern Africa many populations are stable or increasing. According to our new paper, this could be partly due to the benefits local people generate from nature-based tourism.

Together with Dr. Jeanetta Selier from the South African National Biodiversity Institute, and Prof. Rob Slotow from the University of KwaZulu-Natal we analyzed which factors affected elephant numbers in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, spanning South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, between 2007 and 2014.

We found that elephant numbers were limited by the increasing human population and expanding agricultural land, but were positively correlated with the increasing number of tourists visiting the country.

“Our results highlight that an increase in human population, coupled with the need to produce more food, will affect elephant numbers even more negatively in the future”, says Dr Selier.

“If this happens in southern Africa, where elephant populations are currently doing much better compared to the rest of the continent, then the picture is grim”, she continues.

“With the increasing demand for land for human settlement and agriculture, coordinated legislation and policies across national boundaries are needed to improve long term land use planning. This will ensure the survival of the elephant”, says Prof. Rob Slotow.

“Local communities often pay the costs of elephant conservation without tangible benefits. Making sure the benefits generated from nature-based tourism, such as ecotourism safaris, are shared with communities whom co-exist with elephants remains crucial to ensure the long-term persistence of this iconic species”, Dr. Di Minin says.

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