Caribou numbers are declining, except for a herd known as Klinse-Za in central British Columbia
A new study from the University of British Columbia on the Okanagan indicates that an Indigenous-led conservation effort for mountain caribou holds promise.
Caribou numbers across the country are declining, largely due to human activity.
But a herd of mountain caribou in central British Columbia, known as Klinse-Za, has seen its numbers go in the opposite direction, thanks to a collaborative recovery effort led by West Moberly First Nations. and Saulteau First Nations. The herd is located between Mackenzie, Chetwynd and the Peace Arm of Williston Reservoir.
The Indigenous-led conservation initiative has combined short-term recovery measures such as reducing caribou predators and guardians in maternal enclosures, with ongoing work to provide landscape-scale protection in the goal of creating a self-sustaining caribou population.
Dr. Clayton Lamb, Liber Ero Fellow, along with Master’s Biology student Carmen Richter and Dr. Adam T. Ford, Canada Research Chair in Wildlife Restoration Ecology, are conducting research at the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science. Their latest study shows that Klinse-Za caribou numbers have almost tripled in less than a decade.
“We have an Indigenous-led conservation effort to thank for averting the impending extinction of this herd,” says Dr Lamb. “The population was declining rapidly – one West Moberly elder described the herd as a ‘sea of caribou’, but by 2013 it was down to just 38 animals.
Today the herd numbers over 110 and the numbers continue to rise.
“This work offers an innovative, community-led paradigm shift in conservation in Canada,” says Dr. Lamb. “Although Indigenous peoples have long been actively managing landscapes, this approach is novel in the level of collaboration between Western scientists and Indigenous peoples to create positive outcomes on the land and put an endangered species on the path to recovery. recovery.
Richter, who is a member of Saulteau First Nations, says Indigenous communities have truly come together for the good of the caribou.
“This is truly an unprecedented achievement and signals the critical role that Indigenous peoples can play in conservation,” says Dr Ford. “I hope this success opens doors for collaborative stewardship among other communities and organizations. We can accomplish so much more by working together.