Learning From Observational Data To Improve Protected Area Management

Law enforcement is an essential part of Protected Area (PA) management. This project aims to determine how patrol data can best be analysed by PA managers to monitor enforcement effort, inform future patrolling strategies, and motivate rangers.

Photo credit: Harriet Ibbett

Key facts

Period: January 2016-August 2019

Funder: National Environment Research Council (NERC)

Researchers: Aidan Keane, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Colin Beale, Andy Dobson, Harriet Ibbett

Collaborators: University of Oxford, University of York, WCS Cambodia, Hannah O’Kelly, Henry Travers

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Project Overview

Law enforcement is an essential part of Protected Area (PA) management. Over the past decade, the development of tools such as MIST and SMART – which enable rangers to record important information such as patrol routes, observations and incidences of illegal behaviour – has created new opportunities to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement. In theory, these data can be analysed by PA managers to monitor enforcement effort, inform future patrolling strategies, and motivate rangers. However, whilst observations made by rangers provide important information for PA managers, their overall utility for monitoring, strategic planning and evaluation is limited by inherent bias in the data collection process. Recording of illegal activities is influenced by a multitude of ecological and social factors, and unlike ecological studies which only aim to observe behaviour, the fundamental purpose of patrols is to change the behaviour of offenders. These conditions make the analysis of ranger-generated data extremely complex.

Focusing on a real-world system, the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, this project collected independent field data and used computer simulations of how rangers and poachers interact with one another and their environment to test strategies and develop new practical tools for learning from patrol data.


Project Outputs

Publications

Ibbett, H., & Brittain, S. (2019). Conservation publications and their provisions to protect research participants. Conservation Biology https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13337

Dobson, A. D. M., de Lange, E., Keane, A., Ibbett, H., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2019). Integrating models of human behaviour between the individual and population levels to inform conservation interventions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 374(1781), 20180053. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2018.0053

de Lange, E., Milner-Gulland, E. J., & Keane, A. (2019). Improving Environmental Interventions by Understanding Information Flows. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2019.06.007

Hauenstein, S., Kshatriya, M., Blanc, J., Dormann, C. F., & Beale, C. M. (2019). African elephant poaching rates correlate with local poverty, national corruption and global ivory price. Nature Communications, 10(1), 2242. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09993-2

Dobson, A. D. M., Milner-Gulland, E. J., Ingram, D. J., & Keane, A. (2019). A Framework for Assessing Impacts of Wild Meat Hunting Practices in the Tropics. Human Ecology, 47(3), 449–464. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0075-6

Dobson, A. D. M., Milner-Gulland, E. J., Beale, C. M., Ibbett, H., & Keane, A. (2019). Detecting deterrence from patrol data. Conservation Biology, 33(3), 665–675. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13222

Hinsley, A., Keane, A., St. John, F. A. V., Ibbett, H., & Nuno, A. (2019). Asking sensitive questions using the unmatched count technique: Applications and guidelines for conservation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10(3), 308–319. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13137

Research Briefings

Learning from patrol data to improve law enforcement in Cambodia’s protected areas (English | Khmer)

Hunting and Law Enforcement in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary: Lessons for Management (English | Khmer)

Workshops and Meetings

Learning from patrol data to improve law enforcement for conservation
19th July 2019, Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Snaring and Law Enforcement Effectiveness in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary: Lessons for Management
16th July 2019, Emario Mondulkiri Resort, Sen Monorom, Cambodia

Learning from observational data to tackle illegal behaviour for conservation
25th – 26th March 2019, University of Oxford, UK

Talks and Presentations

An Agent-Based Model to improve metrics for learning from patrol data
Aidan Keane, 29th International Congress for Conservation Biology
21st-25th July 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Investigating the relationship between search effort and snare detectability.
Harriet Ibbett, 29th International Congress for Conservation Biology
21st-25th July 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

How can we reduce elephant poaching in Africa to sustainable levels?
Colin Beale, 29th International Congress for Conservation Biology
21st-25th July 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Integrating models of human behaviour between the individual and population levels to inform conservation interventions
E.J. Milner-Gulland, ZSL Symposium: Linking behaviour to populations and communities: how can behavioural ecology inform conservation?
22nd – 23rd November 2018, Zoological Society of London, UK

Understanding human hunting behaviour in Cambodia
Harriet Ibbett, ConservationAsia 2018
6th – 10th August 2018, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Detecting deterrence from patrol data
Andrew Dobson, 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology
12th – 15th June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland

Searching for snares: How much effort is enough?
Harriet Ibbett, 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology
12th – 15th June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland

Rethinking Conservation in an Uncertain World
E.J. Milner-Gulland, Plenary Talk at the 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology
23rd – 27th July 2017, Cartagena, Colombia

  1. […] I am working on a NERC funded collaborative project with the University of Edinburgh entitled “Learning from observational data to improve protected area management”. My role is primarily field-based and focuses on understanding hunting in a tropical forest […]

  2. […] at Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia, collecting data for our NERC funded project, “Learning from observational data to improve protected area management“. During her time there she kept a series of video diaries, documenting her life in the […]

  3. […] at Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia, collecting data for our NERC funded project, “Learning from observational data to improve protected area management“. During her time there she kept a series of video diaries, documenting her life in the […]

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