Illegal hunting and law enforcement during a period of economic decline in Zimbabwe: A case study of northern Gonarezhou National Park and adjacent areas

E. Gandiwa, I.M.A. Heitkonig, A.M. Lokhorst, H.H.T. Prins, C. Leeuwis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Illegal hunting of wildlife, or top-down harvesting, is a major issue in today's society, particularly in tropical ecosystems. There has been widespread concern about increasing illegal hunting of wildlife in most conservation areas in Zimbabwe following the political instability and economic decline the country faced since 2000. In this study, we focused on the northern Gonarezhou National Park (GNP), a large and unfenced protected area, and adjacent communal areas in southern Zimbabwe. We hypothesised that illegal hunting activities would (1) be perceived to have increased due to economic collapse and (2) vary with law enforcement efforts. A total of 236 local residents from eight villages adjacent to the northern GNP were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires from December 2010 to May 2011, and law enforcement data for northern GNP between 2000 and 2010 were retrieved from the park law enforcement database. A total of 26 animal species were reportedly hunted. Bushmeat consumption and the need for local trade to raise income were reported as the main reasons behind illegal hunting. Contrary to the first hypothesis, the majority of respondents (n = 156, 66%) reported that illegal hunting activities had declined between 2000 and 2010 largely due to increased park protection as also supported by law enforcement data. A total of 22 animal species were recorded as having been illegally hunted in northern GNP. The number of illegal hunters arrested declined with increased law enforcement efforts although the number of wire snares recovered and hunting dogs shot appeared to increase following increased law enforcement efforts. These results partly support the second hypothesis that illegal hunting activities would vary with law enforcement efforts
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • protected areas
  • communities adjacent
  • central-africa
  • wildlife consumption
  • equatorial-guinea
  • western serengeti
  • nature-reserves
  • luangwa valley
  • local people
  • south-africa

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