Delving into the intricate tapestry of African carnivores’ destiny, a recent study by Harris, Nyeema C., Asia Murphy, Aalayna R. Green, Siria Gámez, Daniel M. Mwamidi, and Gabriela C. Nunez-Mir shakes up current perceptions of extinction risks. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023), the article “Socio-ecological gap analysis to forecast species range contractions for conservation” takes us on a journey through the socio-ecological landscape, forecasting species range contractions. Let’s dive into the fascinating findings in this article!


  • In a groundbreaking study on African carnivores, Harris et al. (2023) introduce a novel socio-ecological gap analysis, unraveling the intricate interplay between threats and resources shaping the future of 91 species.

  • Contrary to conventional notions, the research challenges extinction risks for small-bodied carnivores, spotlighting the unexpected role of biocultural diversity and ethnic richness in conservation capacity.

  • While drought and hunting pressures loom large as pervasive threats, the study unveils surprising vulnerabilities in species categorized as “Least Concern,” urging a reevaluation of their conservation status.

  • Emphasizing the importance of incorporating local cultures and traditional knowledge, the findings highlight a paradigm shift towards a more inclusive conservation strategy, essential for safeguarding the dynamic ranges of Africa’s diverse carnivores.


Navigating the Socio-Ecological Realm of African Carnivores

Utilizing gap analysis methodology, researchers not only consider the spatial distribution of threats but also incorporate the distribution of resources into a conservation capacity index. In this study, the focus is placed on 91 African carnivores spanning various families.

Threats and Resources

The surprising results reveal that not only the threats of drought and human hunting pressure are significant, but also the biocultural biodiversity and ethnic diversity play crucial roles in conservation capacity. This underscores the importance of integrating social aspects into conservation efforts.


Variability in Conservation Capacity

It turns out not all African carnivores are at the anticipated risk of extinction. With variations in available conservation capacity, the results challenge conventional views of extinction risk for certain species.

Surprising Discovery: Least Concern Species Vulnerable

While many African carnivores are currently categorized as “Least Concern,” this research brings a new perspective. Some of them have vulnerable portions of their range, highlighting the need for a reassessment of conservation status.

The Importance of Acknowledging Local Culture

This article is not just about carnivores and their environment; it’s also about the role of local culture. Recognition of ethnic diversity and traditional knowledge of local communities proves to be a key factor in engaging communities in conservation efforts.

Challenges and Next Steps

While these findings provide valuable insights, the article acknowledges limitations, including uncertainty in range maps and scale differences in socio-ecological data layers. However, this research opens the door to future, more holistic approaches in conservation planning.


In a rapidly changing world, this research serves as a reminder that involving both social and ecological factors is crucial in conservation efforts. Peering into the future of African carnivores is not just about observing threats but also understanding the balance between resources and threats within a broader socio-ecological framework.

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