Demographic observations of mountain nyala Tragelaphus buxtoni in a controlled hunting area, Ethiopia

Evangelista, Paul, author
Young, Nicholas, author
Swift, David, author
Wolde, Asrat, author
OMICS International, publisher
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The highlands of Ethiopia are inhabited by the culturally and economically significant mountain nyala Tragelaphus buxtoni, an endemic spiral horned antelope. The natural range of this species has become highly fragmented with increasing anthropogenic pressures; driving land conversion in areas previously considered critical mountain nyala habitat. Therefore, baseline demographic data on this species throughout its existing range are needed. Previous studies on mountain nyala demographics have primarily focused on a confined portion of its known range where trophy hunting is not practiced. Our objectives were to estimate group size, proportion of females, age class proportions, and calf and juvenile productivity for a sub-population of mountain nyala where trophy hunting is permitted and compare our results to recent and historical observations. We collected four years of demographic data using direct point counts in a controlled hunting area and summarized the data using the R statistical software. Our results show that estimated proportion of females (0.63; 0.56-0.69) was similar to recent studies of non-hunted populations, but group size (3.74; 3.34-4.13), juvenile productivity (0.47; 0.35-0.62) and age class proportions (calves: 0.17 juveniles: 0.19 adults: 0.64) were considerably different. Our results are more similar to historical accounts than those in a national park. We demonstrate that the mountain nyala's population structure and health varies across its range and may relate to the different management strategies and policies. We recommend using similar methods for remaining under surveyed sub-populations of mountain nyala to inform conservation actions at the landscape scale.
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population structure
trophy hunting
wildlife management
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