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The persistence of endangered species may depend on the fate of a very small number of individual animals. In situ conservation alone may sometimes be insufficient. In these instances, the International Union for Conservation of Nature provides guidelines for ex situ conservation and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) indicates how ex situ management can support the CDB's objectives by providing insurance policies for species. The circumstances that justify its use are uncertain. To evaluate the current in situ extinction risk and ex situ management of 43 critically endangered species of mammalian megafauna, we used nonmetric multidimensional scaling and geopolitical variables related to governance, economics, and national policy within their extant ranges. We then fitted generalized additive models to assess the contribution of each variable to the ordination. Fifteen (almost one-third) of the world's terrestrial mammalian megafauna are not the subject of any ex situ management. Seventy-three percent of these taxa occur in areas characterized by political uncertainty, such as border zones or areas affected by armed conflicts, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. A further 23% of taxa in ex situ programs do not meet sustainability criteria for inbreeding avoidance. Strategic conservation planning, such as the One Plan approach, may improve ex situ management for these taxa. Given the escalating trend in threats afflicting megafauna, ex situ management should be considered more rigorously, particularly in politically unstable regions, to achieve CBD Target 12 (prevent extinction of threatened species). Manejo Ex Situ como Protección contra la Extinción de la Megafauna de Mamíferos en un Mundo Incierto This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Conserv Biol

Publication Date



Article 9, Artículo 9, Convención sobre la Diversidad Biológica, Convention on Biological Diversity, armed conflict, conflicto armado, escalamiento multidimensional no métrico, in situ management, manejo in situ, nonmetric multidimensional scaling