THE BROAD PICTURE: The aim of MammalMAP is to update the distribution records of all African mammal species. Through collaborations with professional scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across Africa, we consolidate all reliable and identifiable evidence (camera trap records, photographs) of current mammal locations into an open-access digital database. The database software automatically generates online distribution maps of all recorded species which are instantly visible and searchable. The information consolidated within MammalMAP will not only yield crucial information for species conservation policies and landscape conservation policies, but provides an excellent platform for educating the public about African mammals and their conservation challenges.
WHY MAMMALMAP IS NECESSARY: In Africa, our knowledge of mammal distribution patterns is based largely on historical records. However, the last three centuries have seen extensive human-modification of African landscapes with the associated conversion, compression and fragmentation of natural land. With further land development presenting a likely reality for the future, the effectiveness of mammal conservation efforts depends on ecological records being updated so that they accurately reflect mammal distribution patterns in the 21st Century. With MammalMAP we plan to conduct these ecological updates over the coming years, by mapping the current distribution of mammal species (including marine mammals and small mammals) across Africa.
HOW MAMMALMAP CONTRIBUTES TO CONSERVATION: The conservation benefits of this research are multiple. First, the comparison of these updated distribution records with both historical and future records will enable the detection of species’ distribution changes in response to human-related and climate-related habitat changes. These change detections will assist the guidance of continent-wide conservation policies and decision making processes. Second, the research will promote and facilitate interdisciplinary and international collaboration amongst scientists and conservation practitioners, with potential benefits to the advancement of conservation science. Finally, both the project input stage (data collection) and output stage (data dissemination) will offer interactive, dynamic and widely applicable education tools suitable for both formal and informal education sectors.
THE WHERE AND THE HOW OF MAMMALMAP: The area of interest for MammalMAP is the whole of Africa. To achieve this we collaborate with scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across the continent. Our methods involve consolidating evidence of mammal occurrence in a given location (camera trap records, photographs and other reliable records) into a digital database hosted by the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town. In time, we will use the records in the database to generate distribution maps for all recorded species, in the same way that the ADU has done for birds, reptiles, frogs and butterflies.