Potential Threats to Tortoise Populations
in Parc National de W, Niger, West Africa
Geochelone sulcata in Park W.
JAMES E. MOORE
The Nature Conservancy of Nevada, 1771 East Flamingo Road, Suite 111B,
Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA / email: email@example.com
ABSTRACT: In 19841985, during regular inventories of large mammals in Parc National de W in Niger, West Africa, observations were made of the African spurred tortoise, Geochelone sulcata. A species of hinge-backed tortoise (Kinixys belliana) is also found in unknown densities throughout the park. Both species were regularly captured when encountered on the roads by park guards, guides, and unsupervised tourists. The fates of these animals after capture, and whether this practice continues today, is unknown.
The management objectives of the national park during this period were geared towards increasing and improving the tourist experience. Controlled early dry-season burning of this arid grass and scrub ecosystem was implemented to improve visibility of large mammals, to provide a fresh forage for the many ungulate species, and to stem the sweeping, uncontrolled fires typically started by trespassing pastoralists. The effects these burns may be having on the tortoise population, as well as on a host of other less visible or less tourist-important species, have raised serious concerns.
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