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American Association for the Advancement of Science
Saving the animals of the serengeti
How do you keep wildlife in a nature preserve safe and healthy when people want to kill them for food or to sell valuable animal parts to make money?
Researchers found that in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the way to keep animals alive is to have regular patrols to stop people killing protected animals, which is also called poaching. This article appeared in the 24 November issue of Science.
Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington and colleagues studied how funding for antipoaching patrols has affected the amount of three species that poachers like to capture. They found that when the government has enough money to fund many antipoaching patrols in Serengeti National Park, that the African buffalo, elephant and black rhino are able to build up their population.
The researchers compared records of the economy in Tanzania, the number of arrests of poachers and the animal populations.
Poaching was low before 1977. That year, the country's economy declined and Tanzania cut back on antipoaching patrols. Poaching increased between 1977 and 1986 due to the decline in patrols, but also because of very high prices paid for the horns of black rhinos and elephants. In the late 1990s, the number of antipoaching patrols increased, the number of poachers arrested increased, and the number of these animals increased.
The good news is that the elephants and black rhino population is growing. Sadly, a drought in 1993 killed 40 percent of the water buffalo.