University campuses can contribute to wildlife conservation in urbanizing regions: a case study from Nigeria

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Iliyasu Simon
Jennifer Che
Lynne R. Baker


Globally, colleges and universities are increasingly mandating sustainability and environmental protection into their practices.  To date, such institutions have focused their efforts on recycling and energy-use reduction and less on the management and conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitats. However, in an increasingly urbanizing world, well-managed campuses can provide habitat and even refuge for wildlife species.  On the campus of a sustainability-minded university in Nigeria, we used camera traps to determine the presence of wildlife and used occupancy modeling to evaluate factors that influenced the detectability and habitat use of two mammals for which we had sufficient detections: White-tailed Mongoose Ichneumia albicauda and Gambian Rat Cricetomys gambianus.  Our intent was to gather baseline data on campus wildlife to inform future research and make recommendations for maintaining wildlife populations.  We detected wildlife primarily within less-disturbed areas that contained a designated nature area, and the presence of a nature area was the key predictor variable influencing habitat use.  No measured variables influenced detectability.  This study supports other research that highlights the importance of undisturbed or minimally disturbed natural habitats on university campuses for wildlife, especially in increasingly built-up and developed regions.  We recommend that institutions of higher education devote greater resources to making campuses wildlife-friendly and increase opportunities for students to engage in campus-based wildlife research and conservation and other sustainability-related programs. 

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