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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New report confirms global carnivore conservation at risk

Shrinking habitat, increased conflict projected in regions critical to survival of threatened apex predatorsLion4

Helsinki – A new study confirms that the global conservation of carnivores is at risk. Published (01/04/2016) in Scientific Reports, the report models future global land conversion and estimates this will lead to significant range loss and conflict with local people in regions critical for the survival of already threatened carnivore species.

Organized by researchers from the University of Helsinki in collaboration with an international team of conservation and land use change scientists the study concludes that immediate action is needed to prevent habitat loss and conflict with humans in priority areas for carnivore conservation.

Lead author Dr. Enrico Di Minin of University of Helsinki explained, “We assessed how expected land use change will affect priority areas for carnivore conservation in the future. The analysis revealed that carnivores will suffer considerable range losses in the future. Worryingly, it seems that the most important areas for carnivore conservation are located in areas where human-carnivore conflicts are likely to be most severe.”

Di Minin continued, “Presently, South American, African, and South East Asian countries, as well as India, were found to contribute mostly to carnivore conservation. While some of the most charismatic species, such as the tiger and giant panda were found to be at high risk under future land use change, smaller, less charismatic species, with small ranges were found to be equally threatened by habitat loss.”

Carnivores include some of the most iconic species that help generate funding for biodiversity conservation and deliver important benefits to humans. Protecting carnivores will conserve many other bird, amphibian, reptile and mammal species that live in priority areas for carnivore conservation.

Dr. Luke Hunter, President and Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and a co-author of the paper shared, “Carnivores like big cats have been squeezed out of their ranges at alarming rates for decades now, and we can now see that habitat loss and its shock waves on wildlife are only on the rise. In order to protect our planet’s landscape guardians, a far greater financial investment from the international community is needed for range-wide conservation approaches, both within and outside of protected areas where carnivores roam.”

Professor Rob Slotow from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, another co-author in the paper, in South Africa emphasizes that reducing conflict with humans outside of protected areas is pivotal. “Most priorities for carnivore conservation are in areas in the global south where human populations are increasing in size, agriculture is intensifying, and human development needs are the highest. There is need to implement conservation strategies that promote tolerance for carnivores outside protected areas and focus on the benefits that people derive from these species.”

Interactive visualizations and data: http://avaa.tdata.fi/web/cbig/carnivores

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