Is There a Role for Human-Dominated Landscapes in the Long-Term Conservation Management of the Critically Endangered Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji)?
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As forest loss and degradation continues, the human-dominated landscape outside protected areas should become increasingly relevant to primate conservation. Here we consider the Tanzanian endemic kipunji, Rungwecebus kipunji, whose small extent of occurrence (42 km2) and population (1117 individuals) qualify it for Critically Endangered status on the IUCN Red List. Habitat models suggest there is limited potential for expansion within the kipunji’s current protected forest habitat. In 2010, we examined the potential conservation role of land surrounding the forests using ecological surveys and structured interviews. Land outside protected forest is dominated by subsistence agriculture interspersed with tiny forest patches (almost all <0.4 km2) that cover only 2.4 % of the surveyed area located within 10 km of the forest boundary. Habitat bordering the forest forms a “hard edge” for kipunji, although some sites with single kipunji food trees, e.g., Ficus, offer some potential for use. However, tolerance of kipunji in the agricultural landscape may be limited in areas where kipunji was recorded crop raiding maize along the forest edge, and protection/retaliatory measures are employed. The Bujingijila corridor (2.1 km2) is a priority site for reforestation, particularly in the context of ongoing “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)” activities. We recorded the presence of kipunji food trees and little agriculture. Bujingijila could provide habitat for an additional 88 kipunji (8 % population increase), using density estimates from a 2006 census. Bujingijila has the additional benefit of reconnecting the Mt. Rungwe and Livingstone kipunji subpopulations.
KeywordsForest loss Human–monkey conflict Land use Livelihoods Reforestation
Work in the Southern Highlands was funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). We thank Karen, Dan, and Zak Pritzker; Katie Carpenter; and an anonymous donor. Research permission was granted by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, Tanzania National Parks, Tanzania Forestry and Beekeeping Division, Mbeya Regional Administration, and Rungwe District. Many thanks to field assistants Geofrey Fokile and Paulo Maingo for the transect work. We thank Yahya Abeid, Roy Gereau, and Omari Kibure for plant specimen verification, and Buto Kilasa and Ramathan Mduruma for logistical support. We thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript.
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