Joining forces toward proactive elephant and rhinoceros conservation

Susanne Marieke Vogel, Maya Pasgaard, Jens‐Christian Svenning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Proactive approaches that anticipate the long-term effects of current and future conservation threats could increase the effectiveness and efficiency of biodiversity conservation. However, such approaches can be obstructed by a lack of knowledge of habitat requirements for wildlife. To aggregate and assess the suitability of current information available on habitat requirements needed for proactive conservation, we conducted a systematic review of the literature on elephant and rhinoceros habitat requirements and synthesized data by combining a vote counting assessment with bibliometric and term maps. We contextualized these numeric and terminological results with a narrative review. We mapped current methods, results, terminology, and collaborations of 693 studies. Quantitative evidence for factors that influence the suitability of an area for elephants and rhinoceros was biased toward African savanna elephants and ecological variables. Less than one third of holistic approaches considered equal amounts of ecological and anthropogenic variables in their assessments. There was a general lack of quantitative evidence for direct proxies of anthropogenic variables that were expected to play an important role based on qualitative evidence and policy documents. However, there was evidence for a segregation in conceptual frameworks among countries and species and between science versus policy literature. There was also evidence of unused potential for collaborations among southern hemisphere researchers. Our results indicated that the success of proactive conservation interventions can be increased if ecological and anthropogenic dimensions are integrated into holistic habitat assessments and holistic carrying capacities and quantitative evidence for anthropogenic variables is improved. To avoid wasting limited resources, it is necessary to form inclusive collaborations within and across networks of researchers studying different species across regional and continental borders and in the science–policy realm.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13726
Number of pages15
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


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