Linking local people's perception of wildlife and conservation to livelihood and poaching alleviation: A case study of the Dja biosphere reserve, Cameroon
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This Paper examines how people's livelihoods and perceptions of wildlife are related to self-reported poaching(here defined as commercial bushmeat hunting) in 25 villages at the northern buffer zone of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, East Cameroon. Using a six-point Likert scale questionnaire among 263 households interviewed form March to June 2017, the following hypothesis were tested: (1) Households with positive perceptions of wildlife are less involved in poaching; (2) Positive perceptions of wildlife are linked to sustainable livelihood improvement of households; and (3) Sustainable livelihood improvement of households leads to poaching alleviation.
The study area has been the site since 2010 for a community-centered conservation Program that aims to improve local people's livelihoods (through the creation of income sources based on cocoa-based agroforestry and Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) Valorization) and their perceptions of wildlife (mainly through awareness raising and wildlife education) and therefore divert them from poaching. The main findings of the study indicates that positive perceptions of wildlife are linked to lower levels of poaching.
Similarly, positive perception of wildlife was positively related to Livelihood improvement of the respondents. However, livelihood improvement alone did not predict poaching alleviation though we reported a significant difference in poaching frequencies of cocoa and non-cocoa producers with the firsts less involved in poaching.
The findings of this study recommend more holistic approaches of biodiversity conservation that integrate simultaneously perception and livelihood improvement.
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