ASU researcher says relocating animals to save species is not always a good move

November 5, 2012

Moving animals for conservation is not a panacea. This is what Irene Pérez and colleagues from Arizona State University and several Spanish institutions have concluded after evaluating 280 published translocation projects worldwide and 107 unpublished Spanish projects.

Translocation is the term used to refer to the movement of living organisms from one area to another in hopes of recovering a threatened species. One example is the translocation of the California condor into parts of the Sonoran Desert, just one of thousands of projects that are currently going on in the United States and worldwide. Download Full Image

The result of their study, published in the November issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, is forthright: most translocations are unjustifiable from a conservation perspective or inadequately designed to guarantee success or preclude negative consequences.

Why are these problematic projects developed? The authors point to several reasons, such as aesthetic or sociopolitical motivations and the use of translocations as “simple solutions” to complex conservation problems.

Releasing individuals of a species is a relatively feasible and socially attractive strategy compared to the establishment of protected areas or the restriction of development projects. Pérez, a faculty research associate in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and her collaborators believe the reason why there are so many deficient translocation projects is because clear, objective guidelines for determining when certain translocations should be undertaken are still lacking.

To remedy this issue, the authors endorse a system for evaluating the suitability of proposed translocation projects. Using this system allows not only the evaluation of the necessity for a given project, but also the technical and logistical design, as well as associated risks of the project.

Pérez is passionate about her work. She studies how people view, understand and use nature and natural resources, and she looks for efficient management options. Her final goal is to contribute to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

“Humans have a huge responsibility in avoiding species extinctions because we are the cause of the threatened situation of many species worldwide,” she says. “But we don’t want to spend our time and money on useless projects while tackling this tremendous task of conserving wildlife.”

Pérez’s study offers a guide to help curb species extinctions by reducing the number of inappropriate translocation projects and enabling more efficient use of the scarce resources invested in conservation. The system is particularly useful to planners and wildlife managers, who face the difficult decision of whether a species should be translocated.

Irene Perez,
School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Cronkite School hosts Edward R. Murrow Program for 3rd year

November 5, 2012

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is hosting a group of international journalists as part of the U.S. State Department’s prestigious Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.

The Murrow Program, named in honor of the late CBS News journalist, began in 2006 to enable emerging international print, broadcast and digital media journalists to study journalism and civic processes in the United States. Since its inception, the program has brought more than 900 journalists from approximately 90 countries to the United States. Download Full Image

This year approximately 130 journalists are coming to the United States for a three-week program that starts in Washington, D.C., and ends in Chicago. ASU is one of nine partner universities hosting the visitors as they travel the country to gain an understanding of U.S. politics, government and news media.

The Cronkite School will host 17 journalists from sub-Saharan Africa. This year’s participants, who have been nominated by the U.S. embassies in their countries of residence, come from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

This is the third year that Cronkite has hosted the Murrow Program. The school welcomed 13 Murrow visitors from South Asia last year.

“We’re proud to open the doors of Cronkite Global Initiatives to journalists worldwide, and especially to our Murrow visitors from Africa as they witness firsthand a free press covering an election,” said B. William Silcock, associate professor of journalism and director of Cronkite Global Initiatives. “I believe there’s no better time to watch democracy unfold and see the interplay between the press and politicians than during a presidential election, and no better place in the country to observe that than at the Cronkite School.”

The journalists will visit the Cronkite School from Nov. 3-8. While in Arizona, the Murrow visitors will observe firsthand American civic life and how local and national news media cover politics and government.

This year’s program focuses on the media’s role in covering the 2012 elections. The visitors will participate in a three-day seminar about elections and the media, hearing from Cronkite faculty on topics ranging from the polling process to key issues and races in Arizona. They also will hear from student journalists who participated in a major national investigation into voting rights as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 national investigative journalism initiative. 

In addition, on Election Day, the Murrow visitors will be paired with student journalists who are covering the elections for a variety of news outlets, including Cronkite News Service, the school’s multimedia news service for professional news outlets around the region; Cronkite NewsWatch, a live, 30-minute, student-produced newscast airing on PBS four nights a week; The State Press, ASU’s independent campus newspaper and website; and The Blaze 1330 AM, ASU’s independent campus radio station. The visitors will accompany the students as they report from the field on local and state elections as well as the presidential election.     

Other universities hosting the Murrow Program include Louisiana State University, Syracuse University, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, University of Nevada, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma and University of Tennessee.  

The Cronkite School also hosts the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in journalism, a partnership with the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education that brings accomplished mid-career journalists from designated countries to the U.S. for a 10-month intensive academic study and professional experience.

Three of this year’s Humphrey Fellows are covering the presidential election for news organizations in their home countries. Nikiwe Bikitsha is reporting for South Africa’s eNews Channel, Fatima Talib for Pakistan’s Express News Channel and Branko Veselinovic for Serbian National TV.

Reporter , ASU Now