Hands-on research on illegal wildlife trade in Cameroon

IMG_43461Laura Centore is conducting research for her MSc thesis on bushmeat trade, the role of subsistence hunting and its impact on wildlife density in Southwest Cameroon. The research project is a combination of socio-economic and ecological studies. The methodology used includes household interviews, market survey, and line transect monitoring. The trend of wildlife populations is analyzed in conjunction with the market price of bushmeat, bushmeat availability and the household perception of wildlife. Engaging with hunters, bushmeat consumers and traders has deepened my understanding of wildlife trade. However, she highlights that the most meaningful part of her field work has been the opportunity to learn about the vivacious culture and interact with the local community where she is based. She firmly believes that cooperation with stakeholders, especially local communities, is imperative when trying to achieve conservation success. Here are a few pictures of Laura in the field and you can follow her on Twitter @lauracentore.



New paper out!

Vis­itor pat­terns and emer­ging activ­it­ies in na­tional parks re­vealed by so­cial me­dia posts. 

selfie_lionResearchers from the Digital Geography at the University of Helsinki have been studying whether social media data could be used to understand visitor’s activities in national parks and most recent results are presented in Scientific reports: Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter: Assessing the usability of social media data for visitor monitoring in protected areas.

National parks are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation and provide recreational benefits to humans. Park management and planning require up-to-date information about visitor amounts and their activities.

“As conservation authorities often lack resources to carry out traditional visitor surveys, social media offer a novel and cheaper means of collecting such information”, says Dr. Enrico Di Minin, a conservation scientist investigating nature-based tourism benefits. Read the rest of the official press release here.

Trip to South Africa

awd (2 of 1)

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.

New paper out!

conlTraditional 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.

Interview for Helsingin Sanomat

hsHow 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.