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Understanding the drivers of subsistence poaching in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area: What matters for community wildlife conservation?

Herbert Ntuli, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa; WWF South Africa
Aksel Sundström, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Martin Sjöstedt, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Edwin Muchapondwa, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Sverker C. Jagers, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Amanda Linell, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12201-260118

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Abstract

Although subsistence poaching is a large threat to wildlife conservation in Southern Africa, this behavior is seldom researched. Our understanding of individual and community level factors that drive such behavior is limited because of both lack of data and the literature’s predominant focus on commercial poaching. The main objective of this study is to contribute to this scanty literature by examining the factors that are correlated to subsistence poaching in the Great Limpopo, a transfrontier reserve spanning across Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. We use collected primary data from a sample of 2282 respondents and 85 villages that are part of the transfrontier conservation area. We focus on two features, reported subsistence poaching incidences in the community and the previous hunting of individuals, a behavior that is now forbidden in this area. We find through multivariate regression analysis that the likelihood for reported poaching incidences was higher in communities with a larger proportion of young men, plenty of wildlife, and experiencing wildlife conflict. In addition, our survey results illustrate that there is less poaching in communities where local people trust each other, respect institutions, perceive that the management of the park is good, and view wildlife as an asset. Some of these variables can be influenced by appropriate interventions; our findings suggest that capacity building in local institutions, use of community-based crime prevention approaches, training related to wildlife management, and public awareness campaigns could be used by policy makers to affect individuals’ perceptions and behaviors in this context.

Key words

common pool resources; community institutions; Mozambique; South Africa; subsistence poaching; wildlife conservation; Zimbabwe

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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