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Rules of Engagement

Image of polar bear

Conserving large carnivores in the Northern Hemisphere is a major issue that researchers are having to deal with. The issues are different but the approaches are the same as those being pioneered in Australia. Credit: iStockphoto

By Prof Hugh Possingham

Approaches to conservation may differ around the world but the challenges are similar.

Prof Hugh Possingham is the Director of the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre at the University of Queensland.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

We are standing in the middle of a well-managed nature reserve looking at a ploughed field roughly planted with wheat. A few months ago it was a stand of native vegetation.

Below us is a coastal plain awash with huge fish ponds that teem with herons, egrets, storks and ibis – which are both pests and of conservation significance.

Behind us is a huge complex of enclosures filled with rehabilitated birds of prey – some set for release, others producing progeny that will be released (these individuals are too habituated to be released because they were rescued from unfortunate circumstances as pets).

This is Ramat Hanadiv, a privately owned nature reserve overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just south of Haifa in Israel. Their approach to conservation and the problems they face are clearly very different to ours.

Switch scenes. It is now snowing outside and I am listening to talks about the successful spread of large carnivores through Europe – bears, lynx, wolves and wolverines. I am told that allowing hunting is apparently the best strategy for the conservation of these carnivores as it facilitates acceptance. This view is confirmed by Prof Boitani in Israel.

We are walked through a report that involved 18 countries and many years of meetings – a blueprint for European carnivore conservation. Prof Caswell shows how detailed population...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.