The conservation ecology of the Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) in North East Libya
AdvisorsYoung, Christopher H.
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AbstractThe Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) is an endangered antelope in North Africa whose range is now restricted to a few small populations in arid, semi-desert conditions. To be effective, conservation efforts require fundamental information about the species, especially its abundance, distribution and genetic factors. Prior to this study, there was a paucity of such data relating to the Dorcas gazelle in Libya and the original contribution of this study is to begin to fill this gap. The aim of this study is to develop strategies for the conservation management of Dorcas gazelle in post-conflict North East Libya. In order to achieve this aim, five objectives relating to current population status, threats to the species, population genetics, conservation and strategic population management were identified. These were explored using three distinct methods: questionnaires, a distance sampling field survey and genetic analysis. The findings from both the questionnaires and the field survey indicated that there had been a significant decrease in the population in the study area compared to historical records from the 1970s. The respondents to the questionnaire estimated the decrease in the wild gazelle population to be in the range of 80% and 100% following the conflict in Libya in 2011. The responses also indicated that the main threat to the survival of Dorcas gazelle is illegal hunting and that, to reverse the decline, protected areas should be established and protection laws enforced. The respondents also believed that local communities and international conservation efforts are necessary, including captive breeding and reintroduction programmes. The findings suggested that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classification of Dorcas gazelle in Libya should be revised from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ and conservation efforts increased. Questionnaire and distance sampling methods gave different population estimates at 233 and 1070 respectively, with the distance sampling results considered to be the more accurate. The genetic analysis of the sampled Dorcas gazelle population from North East Libya found eight haplotypes, four of which have not been identified elsewhere, indicating a unique genetic diversity. This suggests that, at present, there is no major risk of a genetic bottleneck. The strategic management outcomes identified seven intervention strategies: declaration of the study area as a protected area, protection laws, awareness-raising, research and monitoring, supplementary feeding, captive breeding and international cooperation, each of theses upported by short-, medium- and long-term activities. However, achieving these requires input from local and international stakeholders and experts in a way that reflects the IUCN’s ‘One Plan’ approach.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
SponsorsGovernment of Libya
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