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A participatory counting method to monitor populations of large mammals in non-protected areas : a case study of bicycle counts in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe

Gaidet-Drapier N., Fritz H., Nyahuma C.. 2003. Biodiversity and Conservation, 12 (8) : p. 1571-1585.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1023646012700

The sustainable use of wildlife resources within community-based programmes is considered as a valuable option to enhance development and conservation objectives. The application of such a concept in communal lands requires the strong support of local communities through their active involvement in wildlife management. Precise and regular information on wildlife abundance is also essential for effective conservation. In this paper, we present an innovative participatory monitoring method based on bicycle counts developed within the framework of an integrated conservation and development project in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. Results from the 1999 count of population density and structure of common species as well as diversity of large to medium size species are presented. We demonstrate the efficiency of this method, which allowed a high census intensity with efficient animal detection, and hence appeared appropriate for use in a non-protected area. The method gave high levels of precision for the density estimates obtained (10-30% cv) and is therefore useful as a repeatable monitoring tool. In addition, this method is inexpensive to run and is easy to implement for local people. We emphasise the technical and financial autonomy offered by the bicycle counts for communities to monitor their wildlife resources, and we discuss the contribution of this method to the wildlife management process.

Mots-clés : faune et flore sauvages; ressource naturelle; conservation des ressources; population animale; surveillance; collecte de données; méthode; zimbabwe

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