Human impacts on mammal communities in Rio Campo Nature Reserve, Equatorial Guinea

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Equatorial Guinea in central Africa hosts rich biodiversity and a network of protected areas (PAs). However, infrastructure development has facilitated access to previously remote forests. This has likely increased poaching in PAs, thereby complicating efforts of agencies tasked with protecting threatened mammals. Reserva Natural de Río Campo (RNRC) in Equatorial Guinea was previously identified as a priority area for large mammals due to the presence of elephants and great apes and includes habitat for a diverse mammal community of commonly hunted species. To assess mammalian diversity in RNRC, we conducted a camera trap survey in 2017 and 2019. We used a two-step modelling approach to quantify environmental and anthropogenic factors influencing mammal groups. We detected 32 terrestrial mammal species, including endangered forest elephant, western gorilla, chimpanzee, giant pangolin and white-bellied pangolin. We found bushbuck and sitatunga closer to human-dominated areas, while other common species were, in general, further from development. Monkey and pangolin abundance increased inward from the RNRC boundary. Endangered species appear restricted to northeast RNRC which connects to Campo Ma'an National Park in Cameroon. We recommend using our inventory and distributions of threatened mammals as starting points to determine effectiveness of future anti-poaching and management strategies on mammal populations.

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African Journal of Ecology