Libraries curate elephant data for online Open Access


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Libraries curate elephant data for online Open Access
Series Title:
Center for African Studies Research Report, 2014
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Newsletter article
Reboussin, Daniel
University of Florida Center for African Studies
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Gainesville, Florida
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Daniel Reboussin.
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Update on research activities for African Studies Curator.

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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Libraries curate elephant data for online Open Access Daniel Reboussin In 2010, Nairobi based conservation practitioner Ian Parker donated his professional papers to the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. The manuscripts cover wildlife r elated issues represent ing his fifty plus year career first as a Game Warden in the C olonial Kenya Game Department from 1956 with Wildlife Services, Ltd. ( East Africa S first wildlife research and manage ment consultancy ) from 1964 1976 and as an independent consultant until retirement in 2011 The Ian Parker Collection Relating to East African Wildlife Conservation complements other African wildlife related acquisitions also open for research A ccessible in the Spec ial and Area Studies Collection s Department are the Graham and Brian Child African Wildlife and Range Management Collection ( notably documenting CAMPFIRE community conservation pro gram s across Zimbabwe ) and the Records of the East African Professional Hunters Association (influen tial in establishing Kenya's wildlife conservation p olicies wildlife tourism, and game laws from 1934 1974 ) Among manuscripts is a unique substantial set of elephant biological records Curated with the collection are 3,175 data sheets that f rom 1965 to 1969 Wildlife Services, Ltd. teams collected during large scale culling operations designed to mitigate overpopulation at environmentally stressed sites in Kenya Tanzania and Uganda Project teams estimated age s weighed organs, measured body part s recorded sex and reproductive status, and noted other observations. I t is unlikely that similar information will be collected again for such a large group of eleph ants from wild populations. With the goal of making these significant records easily available after almost fifty years in private hands t he original handwritten Elephant Data S heets were processed for preservation and access on site, before being digitized and loaded to UF Digital Collections


2 While image files of handwritten field data enable open access for readers online the format i s of limited use because they can not be analyzed directly (by a statistical program, for example ) without transcri p tion R ecogni z in g the enhanced value that t his would add to the data, UF Health Science Center Library Veterinary Medicine liaison Hannah Norton and I were awarded internal funding in 2013 for The Parker elephant data sheets: A library minigrant project proposal A team of students completed the t ranscription during the summer so t he data set is now accessible in an online digital format that can be downloaded directly into spreadsheet or statistical applications, encourag ing further research and use by practitioners and for teaching Detailed information and a codebook are available along with the data file in The Ian Parker East African Elephant Data Sheets: A handbook for the transcribed biological data set The Parker collection includes many other primary sources as well as scarce, rare, and unique wildlife conservation materials unavailable elsewhere until now. Some of the most significant reports have been digitized as well but given space limitations a few examples m ay suffice t o entice researchers In 1960 Parker implemented the Galana Scheme which (although it failed for reasons documented in the report linked here ) broke with established practices of the time to recognize Watta hunter gatherers as managers of community resources, rather than elephant poa chers. In another area that Parker is recognized as having been particularly influential, h is confidential reports on the world trade in elephant ivory are widely recognized as significant (if controversial) contributions to the field. U ntil now the se have been nearly impossible for researchers to access This generous gift and grant of permission allows UF Digital Collections to make these reports freely available online: Bl ack Report ( 1971 ) White Report (1973), Ebur ( 1975 ), The Ivory Trade ( 1979 ) and The Raw Ivory Trade ( 1989 ). We


3 welcome researchers to peruse the online collections and to further explore the onsite primary source manuscripts available in the Smathers Library Grand Reading Room. Daniel Reboussin is the UF Smathers Libraries and a Center for African Studies Affiliate Digitization of African Studies Collections is supported by the CAS Title VI grant in collaboration with the UF Libraries and UF Digital Collections T ranscription of the online data records was supported by the George A. Smathers Libraries Mini Grant Program.