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Local perception of ecosystem services provided by bats and bees and their conservation in Bénin, West Africa

Authors:
  • Université Nationale d'Agriculture de Porto-Novo (Bénin)

Abstract

Indigenous perception on ecosystem services provided by honey bees and fruit bats were assessed in Bénin to find out whether the communities value these services and to appreciate if there is any chance to conserve them locally. Farmers were interviewed with questionnaire in three regions of Bénin to report their perception on bats and bees’ value in nature, for human, the trend of their populations and the chance to conserve them. We reported that the communities valued more and more bees’ services in nature from the Southern to the Northern of the country (3 vs. 52%). Bees were threatened according to 35% (South), 89% (Centre) and 99% (North) of interviewees’ declarations. 26-41% persons stated there is chance to conserve them. Bats’ seed dispersal was better recognized in the North (91%) than in the Central zone (76%) and in the South (19%). Bats were threatened mainly by their use as bush meat (52-93% of interviewees) and there is some chance to conserve them mainly in the South, according to percentage of respondents. Population regression was declared for these two animals everywhere. We concluded that ecosystem services provided were overall well known giving thereby some chance to promote actions to conserve them.
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Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. x(x): xx-xx, xxxx
ISSN 1991-8631
© 2012 International Formulae Group. All rights reserved.
Original Paper
http://indexmedicus.afro.who.int
Local perception of ecosystem services provided by bats and bees and their
conservation in Bénin, West Africa
Bruno A. DJOSSA
1,2*
, Hermann TONI
2
, Komivi DOSSA
2
,
Prosper AZONANHOUN
2
and Brice SINSIN
2
1
High School of Agronomy (ENSTA) of Kétou & Laboratory of Applied Ecology, FSA,
University of Abomey - Calavi (UAC), Rep. of Bénin.
*
Corresponding author: E-mail: djossabruno@gmail.com Tel: +(229) 95456283
ABSTRACT
Indigenous perception on ecosystem services provided by honey bees and fruit bats were assessed in
Bénin to find out whether the communities value these services and to appreciate if there is any chance to
conserve them locally. Farmers were interviewed with questionnaire in three regions of Bénin to report their
perception on bats and bees’ value in nature, for human, the trend of their populations and the chance to
conserve them. We reported that the communities valued more and more bees’ services in nature from the
Southern to the Northern of the country (3 vs. 52%). Bees were threatened according to 35% (South), 89%
(Centre) and 99% (North) of interviewees’ declarations. 26-41% persons stated there is chance to conserve
them. Bats’ seed dispersal was better recognized in the North (91%) than in the Central zone (76%) and in the
South (19%). Bats were threatened mainly by their use as bush meat (52-93% of interviewees) and there is
some chance to conserve them mainly in the South, according to percentage of respondents. Population
regression was declared for these two animals everywhere. We concluded that ecosystem services provided
were overall well known giving thereby some chance to promote actions to conserve them.
© 2012 International Formulae Group. All rights reserved.
Key words: bats, bees, conservation, ecosystem services, local communities
INTRODUCTION
There are numerous ecosystem services
delivered in natural habitats and in
agricultural landscapes. Pollination is one of
these services. Pollination by animals that is a
crucial service for many wild and cultivated
plants is often ignored or if not considered
like a gift of the nature and very little is done
to improve or maintain these natural services
(Priti and Sihag, 1997). However, pollination
is a key ecosystem service for food security
(Lundberg and Moberg, 2003; Gikungu, 2006;
Sekercioglu, 2006; Gallai et al., 2009).
Pollinators are important in 35% of global
crop production (Klein et al. 2007). Sixty to
eighty per cent of wild plant species require
animal pollinators (Kremen et al., 2007). This
importance of pollinators recommends that
natural resources managers take action for
their conservation. But in the developing
countries where the traditional and extensive
agriculture occupy large portion of the
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et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
2
populations, the threat on the natural resources
in general and particularly on pollinators
cannot be alleviated without taking into
account the perception of the communities
directly in contact with these organisms. In
general, the majority of the local people
ignore the importance of these services
provided which impact greatly the yield of
their crops (Munyuli, 2011). The perception
of the local communities needs to be taken
into account to decide relevant conservation
actions to expect their agreement without
which any success is possible. Getting the real
perception is also important because even if
they show apparent agreement of the natural
resources conservation, they are usually
opposite to conservation actions creating some
restriction in the use of the natural resources
on which they live (Silori, 2007). This
demonstrates the importance of an accurate
assessment of the perception of the
communities on a given natural resource prior
to conservation activity definition. The
present study aims to assess local
community’s perception through the three
different climatic regions of Bénin
documenting how far they value the services
delivered by bats and bees in term of
pollination and seed dispersal as well as the
chance to conserve these organisms in the
current context of continuous human pressure
on natural resources. We hypothesized that the
perception will differ from one region to
another but also from one organism to
another. These results will help natural
resources managers to make decision
conserving bats and bees in the rural
communities beginning by reinforcing
awareness in order to guarantee the
conservation of these organisms that provide
key ecosystem services on which depends
greatly the food security of the whole
humanity.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study area
This study has been conducted in the
three major climatic regions of Bénin (Fig 1):
the Guinean zone on a site between the
Districts of Comé and Houéyogbé both
situated in the Southwestern of the country,
the Guineo-Sudanian zone, the transition
zone, on a site that belong to the District of
Dassa located in the central region of the
country, and in the Sudanian zone in the
District of Matéri situated in the extreme
Northwestern of the country.
The Republic of Bénin covers a land
area of 112,622 km², of which 22.7% is
legally protected (CENATEL, 1992; FAO,
2001). The population has been estimated at
8,000,000 inhabitants with an average density
of 57 inhabitants/km² (INSAE, 2002). The
altitude varies from sea level to 400–650 m in
the northwest, around the Atacora chain. The
mean annual rainfall varies from 900 mm in
the southwest and in the far north to 1,300
mm in the southeast and centre-west. The
mean annual temperature is 26–28°C.
Southern Bénin (up to 7°30'N latitude)
belongs to the Dahomey Gap, where only
small islands of rainforest exist (White, 1983;
Jenik, 1994). Human pressure on these forest
islands has been so severe that the estimated
rate of deforestation for close forest is 12
km²/year out of a close forest cover of 470
km² (FAO, 2001). From 7°30'N to 12°25'N,
the vegetation is essentially made of a
patchwork of woodlands and savannas. The
flora of Bénin has been estimated at 2,800
plant species (Akoègninou et al., 2006).
Figure 1
A close look at the soil map for Benin
reveals that ferallitic and hydromorphic soils
dominate in the southern part. The crystalline
basement in Central Benin is mainly
characterized by Acrisols and Lixisols (sols
ferrugineux lessivés). In the Atacora
Mountains in north-west Benin, shallow soils
(Lithosols, sols peu evolués lithiques) are
widespread (Volkhoff et al. 1976-78).
Methods
The study was carried out in
communities of small farmers working on
savanna dominated habitats. They practice
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et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
3
traditional agroforestry systems characterized
by subsistence agriculture. We surveyed in
Bouiga, Hountchakoun, Dassari, Dapoua and
Poura villages in the Northern, in Tognon and
Bakéma villages in the Central zone and in
Comé,Sessigbé,Oumako,Djanglanmè,Djakoét
é, Sè, Drè, Akodéha and Houngbo villages in
the Southwestern of the country. Once we
gained the confidence of the villagers, semi-
structured interviews were conducted to
document the perception of individual
respondents on the importance/value of bats
and bees for the nature, for humans as well as
the trend of their populations and the chance
to conserve them locally. In term of
population fluctuation we asked the
interviewees whether the populations of each
animal decline or increase, the reason of this
trend. We got 301 respondents from the three
regions (100 in the Guinean zone, 101 in the
Guineo-Sudanian zone) & 100 in the
Sudanian zone). The 301 respondents were
distributed as followed: 194 males and 107
females.
Responses were computed, converted
in percentages and used to construct charts to
represent the perception of local peoples on
the different aspects put in questions.
Figure 1: The situation of Benin in Africa (a); the position of the studied districts marked
with open circles and the climatic regions delineated with solid lines (b).
RESULTS
Interviewees’ ages ranged from 25 to
76. They were all farmers but some of them
had additional activities. Their perception of
bats and bees as pollinators and their
conservation status were reported as followed:
Local perception on bats and bees
Local peoples interviewed declared
their understandings of the role of bats as seed
dispersers, bees as pollinators, the threats and
the possibility to conserve them locally and
the appreciation of the fluctuation of their
populations in the region (figure 2).
Bats are known as seed dispersers but
not as pollinators throughout the country but
awareness was much higher in the Central
(76%) and in the Northern (91%) of the
country than in the Southern (19%) according
to respondents. Fruit bats were used like
B. A. DJOSSA
et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
4
bushmeat everywhere in the country but this
consumption was more pronounced in the
Central region (93%). All respondents agreed
that bats were threatened via their habitat
destruction mainly and their populations were
declining but declared that it was possible to
conserve them even though only people of
Comé-Houéyogbé region predominantly
believed that (50% vs. 9 and 12% from Dassa
and Matéri respectively). Apart from habitat
destruction, bats were threatened because
people considered them as vectors of diseases
and kill them.
Honey bees are recognized as
pollinators everywhere in the country but
remarkably so few respondents declared it in
the Southern region (3% vs. 38% and 52%
respectively in the Central and Northern
regions). The honey production was the only
one ecosystem service everybody knew for
bees. The threats on bees were unanimously
accepted but the awareness was much higher
in Matéri (99%) and Dassa (89%) districts
compared to what was declared in Comé and
Houéyogbé districts (35%). Bee populations
diminution was also largely admitted
everywhere with 69%, 78% and 94% of
respondents declaring it in Matéri, Dassa and
Comé & Houéyogbé respectively. Chance for
conservation exists everywhere but was more
expressed in Comé and Houéyogbé disticts
(41% vs. 26 and 30%).
Local perception on bats and bees
according to gender
The local perceptions reported on the
different aspects were analyzed with regard to
gender to find out any difference in perception
(figure 3a & b). Local perception of men and
women were roughly similar, except for seed
dispersal in Comé and Houéyogbé districts
where less respondent women (7%) were
aware compared with the number of men
showing awareness of the same ecosystem
service (23.6%) and for the chance to
conserve bats that only men declared in Dassa
district. (Figure 3 b) Local perception of men
and women were roughly similar for all
ecosystem services, except for pollination
only declared by men in Comé and
Houéyogbé districts and for the chance to
conserve bees that more men declared in
Dassa district in contrary to respondents’
proportion in Matéri district.
(a)
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et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
5
Figure 2: Local peoples’ perception on ecosystem services provided by bats (a) and bees (b) and
their conservation status
(b)
B. A. DJOSSA
et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
6
Figure 3a: Local perception on bats according to gender in Comé, Houéyogbé, Dassa and Matéri
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et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
7
Figure 3b: Local perception on bees according to gender in Comé, Houéyogbé, Dassa and Matéri
DISCUSSION
Conservation of natural resources in
general and key ecosystem services such as
pollination and seed dispersal require the
participation or at least the agreement of
communities living in the vicinity of the
resources (Silori, 2007). It is known that
poverty and conservation are a dilemma so
that the awareness of the communities seems
to be very important to expect any change in
natural resources use approach. Due to the
need to solve daily problems, rural
communities usually over exploit the natural
resources on which they depend complicating
their own survival conditions. Although the
percentage of the earth’s surface devoted to
protected areas has steadily increased,
conservation agencies readily admit that many
protected areas are protected in name only and
that many suffer from widespread illegal use,
which in some cases is leading to loss of
biodiversity (Carey et al., 2000). The
perception of the local peoples is important
because when they decide themselves to
conserve natural resources the impact is
noticeable. Recent work has shown that
communities’ own conservation efforts
probably equate to forested areas currently
within formal protected area networks and
that many communities spend more per
hectare on conservation than national
governments (Molnar et al., 2004). The local
communities usually take advantage of
traditional wisdom and religious beliefs to
give sacred value to different natural
resources such as trees, forests, lakes, rivers,
etc. they found important to conserve. Silori
(2001) reported from India that such attitudes
of locals have helped to restrain the level of
anthropogenic pressures in the Nanda Devi
Biosphere Reserve. It appears that when locals
don’t perceive the necessity to conserve a
given natural resource, even if they show
superficial agreement, there are frequently
lack of cooperation between resource users
and managers and this is known to be source
of conflict (Silori, 2007) that is detrimental to
the conservation of the resources. Before
taking into account the local persons’
aspiration when deciding to conserve natural
resources it seems important to know the
perception of these persons on the given
resources otherwise there is a great chance to
decide against their interest. Doing that may
possibly create disagreement and conflict
between managers and local peoples. When it
comes to deal with non tangible services such
as pollination or seed dispersal that are of key
importance for food security for humanity, we
think that it is relevant to check if the local
peoples are aware of what they mean. Usually,
they ignore what the natural resources
managers want them to conserve. Munyuli
(2011) conducted a survey on Uganda farmers
B. A. DJOSSA
et al. / Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 5(6): 509-514, 2012
8
and found that more than 90% of interviewed
farmers were not aware of the role played by
bees in coffee yield increase. The same author
also reported that farmers were not willing to
manage their lands to protect pollination
services, particularly because they considered
pollination service as an unsolicited “free
service”, or as a “public good”. Taking into
account this, we surveyed in different
community in Bénin to report their awareness
of the ecosystem services provided by honey
bees and fruit bats. In an other hand, we
assessed whether there is a difference of
perception between males and females and
reported that awareness were overall similar
for almost every aspect except on the
pollination by bees and seed dispersal by fruit
bats on which women were less aware than
men in the Southern of the country (Comé
andHouéyogbé) compared with the Centre
(Dassa) and the North of the country (Matéri).
Comparable results were obtained with a
similar study in Uganda where men and
women living in the same areas showed
different awareness on specific ecosystem
service like the contribution of the micro-
organisms to soil fertility improvement
(Munyuli, 2011). This demonstrates that the
contribution of each component of the
community needs to be handled differently to
guarantee their contribution to conservation
matters.
With this study, it is appeared that the
perception of ecosystem services provided by
bees and bats varied in the different
communities throughout Bénin and the gender
influenced only when dealing with non
tangible aspects like pollination or seed
dispersal.
Conclusion
This study showed that the local
communities have different awareness of the
ecosystem services provided by fruit bats and
honey bees and perceive their importance
differently throughout the country. The
perception was also weakly influenced by the
gender. All this recommend that conservation
activities toward these key organisms rely on
the perception of each community to increase
chance of success.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We are grateful to local communities
for collaborating during this study, to the
Volkswagen Foundation for financial support
and to the reviewers for their valuable
contribution to the quality of this paper.
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... It is unclear how local communities, who are the main actors in the forest dynamics and the first direct beneficiaries of ecosystem services, have internalized the concept. The critical importance of taking into account local knowledge and perceptions has been pointed out by several authors as a basic tool in decision-making policy for ecosystem protection, sustainable resource management, and livelihoods [15,[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]. The MA [25] in its evaluation report also found that local ecological knowledge was relevant for addressing the issues of unsustainable management of ecosystem services. ...
... For example, a farmer who has extensive knowledge of the consequences of using insecticides on insect populations (pollinators and natural pest control agents for crops production) [42] will develop behaviors to minimize their adverse effects [41]. Also, the benefits gained from ecosystems by the community are sometimes ignored, wrongly understood, wrongly perceived, or perceived in different ways [35]. Factors affecting people's dependence on forests or their attitudes towards forest management or conservation have been examined extensively using both spatial and social variables. ...
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This article examines the perception of the Bhotiya tribal community on the use and conservation of natural resources in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR), north-western Himalaya in India with an objective of identifying the bottlenecks in the sustainable management of forest resources of NDBR through people’s participation. Despite, 85% of the respondents supporting the concept of conservation of forest resources, management decisions such as ban on mountaineering activities by creation of the Nanda Devi National Park (NDNP) in 1982 and NDBR in 1988, developed negative attitude among local people towards NDBR management, mainly because of restricted access to the forest resources for their livelihood. Promotion of some alternative income generating activities to reduce the dependence on natural resources was responded positively by the local people. KeywordsBiodiversity conservation-Chipko movement-People’s perception-Nanda Devi-Resource management-Sustainable development
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Squandering Paradise? The Importance and Vulnerability of the World's Protected Areas. Gland: WWF-World Wide Fund for
  • C Carey
  • N Dudley
  • S Stolton
Carey C, Dudley N, Stolton S. 2000. Squandering Paradise? The Importance and Vulnerability of the World's Protected Areas. Gland: WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature.