Hunters as valuable informants for the conservation and management of the Egyptian mongoose

    Online surveys carried out in the context of the MELOCAM Project show that hunters can provide unique and valuable data for the conservation and management of non-game species such as the Egyptian mongoose


    Scientists from the Research Group in Game Resources and Wildlife Management of the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), in collaboration with scientists from the Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados (IESA-CSIC), the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA-CSIC), the Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (IIM-CSIC) and the Universidad de Malaga, have evaluated whether the information provided by hunters can help to improve our knowledge about the distribution of non-game wildlife species, such as the Egyptian mongoose (Ichneumon herpes), the only naturally occurring mongoose in Europe.

    Despite the Egyptian mongoose is a species of diurnal habits, it is not always easy to detect its presence in a given area due to its elusive behavior, thus the observations provided by groups that carry out their activities in nature, such as hunters, can help to complete the knowledge about its area of distribution.

    That is why this study, framed within the MELOCAM project, has aimed to improve our knowledge of the distribution area of the Egyptian mongoose through an online survey carried out among hunters. The information obtained through the surveys was compared with that coming from professionals related to wildlife, including environmental agents, technicians and researchers, in order to validate it.

     

    The distribution of the Egyptian mongoose, whether it is really expanding and what is the impact on its prey, were unknown aspects in Castilla-La Mancha. These are some of the questions that the MELOCAM Project (“The Egyptian mongoose in Castilla-La Mancha: distribution, abundance, population trends, effects on its prey and social perception”; REF.: SBPLY/17/180501/000184), financed by the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM) and FEDER funds from the European Union, is trying to answer (Photo: Francisco Javier Gómez Chicano).

    The results show a great consistency between both sources in the whole distribution of the Egyptian mongoose, but significant differences in the details of specific areas, which suggests that both groups can provide unique and valuable data for the conservation and management of non-game species.

    For example, hunters provided more data on the presence of the species than professionals in eastern areas of the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real, for the area of distribution as a whole and in the central area of the species, which suggests that hunters could help detect areas where the species is present but where there are no records.

    Taken together, the results highlight the importance of involving hunters in wildlife conservation, as they can share valuable information about its distribution, even of non-game species.

    The scientific publication of this research is available at: