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Abstract

Conservation organizations have increasingly raised concerns about escalating rates of illegal hunting and trade in wildlife. Previous studies have concluded that people hunt illegally because they are financially poor or that they lack alternative livelihood strategies. However, there has been little attempt to develop a richer understanding of the motivations behind contemporary illegal wildlife hunting. As a first step this paper analyses academic and policy literatures and engages in key debates in the social sciences about the meanings of poverty and the relative importance of structure and individual agency. We place motivations for illegal wildlife hunting within the context of the complex history of how wildlife laws were initially designed and enforced. We also consider the nature of poverty and the reasons for economic deprivation in particular communities. We conclude that there is a need for a much better understanding of what poverty is and what motivates people to hunt illegally. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Review
Toward a new understanding of the links between
poverty and illegal wildlife hunting
Rosaleen Duffy,Freya A. V. St John,† Bram B¨
uscher,‡ and Dan Brockington§
Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG,
United Kingdom, email rd38@soas.ac.uk
†Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, United Kingdom
‡Sociology of Development and Change Group, Wageningen University, Hollandsweg 1 6706KN, Wageningen, The Netherlands
§Institute for Development Policy and Management, School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of
Manchester, Arthur Lewis Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom
Abstract: Conservation organizations have increasingly raised concerns about escalating rates of illegal
hunting and trade in wildlife. Previous studies have concluded that people hunt illegally because they are
financially poor or lack alternative livelihood strategies. However, there has been little attempt to develop
a richer understanding of the motivations behind contemporary illegal wildlife hunting. As a first step, we
reviewed the academic and policy literatures on poaching and illegal wildlife use and considered the meanings
of poverty and the relative importance of structure and individual agency. We placed motivations for illegal
wildlife hunting within the context of the complex history of how wildlife laws were initially designed and
enforced to indicate how hunting practices by specific communities were criminalized. We also considered
the nature of poverty and the reasons for economic deprivation in particular communities to indicate how
particular understandings of poverty as material deprivation ultimately shape approaches to illegal wildlife
hunting. We found there is a need for a much better understanding of what poverty is and what motivates
people to hunt illegally.
Keywords: ivory, poaching, rhino horn, rural development, wildlife trade
Hacia un Nuevo Entendimiento de la Conexi´
on entre la Pobreza y la Caza Ilegal de Animales
Resumen: Las organizaciones de conservaci´
on han incrementado cada vez m´
as la preocupaci´
on con re-
specto a la caza ilegal y el mercado de fauna. Los estudios previos han concluido que la gente caza ilegalmente
porque son financieramente pobres o carecen de estrategias alternativas de sustento. Sin embargo, ha habido
pocos intentos por desarrollar un entendimiento m´
as robusto de las motivaciones detr´
as de la caza ilegal
contempor´
anea. Como primer paso, revisamos la bibliograf´
ıa acad´
emica y pol´
ıtica sobre la caza furtiva y el
uso ilegal de la fauna y consideramos los significados de la pobreza y la importancia relativa de la voluntad
individual y de estructura. Colocamos las motivaciones para la caza ilegal dentro del contexto de la historia
compleja de c´
omo las leyes de vida silvestre estuvieron inicialmente dise˜
nadas e impuestas para indicar
c´
omo las pr´
acticas de caza de comunidades espec´
ıficas estuvieron criminalizadas. Tambi´
en consideramos la
naturaleza de la pobreza y las razones de la privaci´
on econ´
omica en comunidades particulares para indicar
c´
omo los entendimientos particulares de la pobreza como material de privaci´
on eventualmente forman a las
estrategias contra la caza ilegal. Encontramos que existe una necesidad de entender de mejor manera qu´
ees
la pobreza y qu´
e motiva a las personas a cazar ilegalmente.
Palabras Clave: caza furtiva, cuerno de rinoceronte, desarrollo rural, marfil, mercado de fauna
Introduction
Recent increases in illegal wildlife hunting and trad-
ing have attracted international attention, particularly
Paper submitted November 15, 2014; revised manuscript accepted August 27, 2015.
of high-value endangered species vulnerable to illegal
international trade. A recent report by the United Na-
tions Environment Programme notes that illegal hunting
of different species demand diverse strategies, including
14
Conservation Biology, Volume 30, No. 1, 14–22
C
2015 Society for Conservation Biology
DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12622
Duffy et al. 15
demand reduction campaigns, use of anti-money launder-
ing regulations, development of surveillance networks,
and increased use of force (Nellemann et al. 2014). Illegal
hunting covers a very wide range of activities associated
with complex motivations and drivers that require differ-
ent responses. It can be driven by demand for high-value
luxury products (e.g., sturgeon [Huso huso] hunting to
meet international demand for caviar or Chiru hunting
[Pantholops hodgsonii] in China to produce shatoosh
wool). In contrast, certain species of bears are in de-
mand for the production of cheap pharmaceutical prod-
ucts, and antelopes and primates are hunted for meat for
subsistence and sale. Through an examination of policy
and academic literatures on poaching and illegal wildlife
use our goal was to develop a richer understanding of
contemporary illegal hunting by connecting theories ex-
plaining individual motivations with those focusing on
broad social, economic, and political drivers.
Current understanding of illegal hunting is hampered
by a lack of data. Moreover, it is frequently approached
primarily as a conservation concern rather than an issue
of poverty and development. Yet, the argument that it
results from poverty is widely used (Adams et al. 2004a;
Nellemann et al. 2014). We argue that effective conser-
vation strategies need to move on from this character-
ization and recognize the complexities of motivations
and political-economic contexts so that illegal wildlife
hunting can be addressed in a more effective, socially
and environmentally just manner.
We placed illegal wildlife hunting in the context of a
wider conceptual debate in the social sciences, that of
structure and agency. This allowed us to discuss their
relative importance in motivations to engage in illegal
hunting and to argue that a broader view of illegal hunt-
ing and poverty is needed that places greater emphasis
on historical and contemporary political-economic and
social contexts.
Defining Illegal Wildlife Hunting
We use the term illegal wildlife hunting rather than
poaching in order to be explicit about the type of be-
havior we are referring to: any hunting or wildlife ex-
traction not explicitly sanctioned by the state or private
owners of wildlife. Here context matters, for example,
a particular act (shooting a wild animal) might be illegal
within a protected area but legal when the animal crosses
the park boundaries or threatens people or property.
This context includes the colonial history of hunting reg-
ulations; laws cannot be uncritically accepted as given
(MacKenzie 1988; Jacoby 2003; Neumann 2004). For ex-
ample, colonial legislation removed hunting rights from
Africans to protect the sports hunting and safari industries
for European colonizers (MacKenzie 1988; Jacoby 2003;
Neumann 2004). These laws criminalized some African
livelihood practices and were often refined and extended
by states after independence. The origins of illegality in
hunting partly explain why some communities in Sub-
Saharan Africa continue to resist legislation to protect
wildlife. In essence those communities maintain that they
have a right to access and use wildlife (Mackenzie 1988;
Carruthers 1995; Garland 2008; Roe 2008b; Robbins et al.
2009; Fischer et al. 2013).
The very nature of illegal wildlife hunting hampers
understanding of it. Published research on the motives of
illegal hunters is scant largely because few are willing to
identify themselves (St. John et al. 2010). The available
work tends to distinguish between subsistence and
commercial hunting. The former typically targets small
game (e.g., antelope), to meet food needs, hunted
with simple technology (e.g., traps and snares) and
tends to have a minimal impact on wildlife populations
(Mackenzie 1988; Bodmer & Lozano 2001; Adams 2004b;
Adams 2009; Lowassa et al. 2012; Fischer et al. 2013;
Twinamatsiko et al. 2014; Harrison et al. 2015). By
contrast, commercial hunters typically operate within or-
ganized groups that target commercially valuable species,
such as rhinoceroses, elephants, orangutans (Pongo
abelii,P. pygmaeus), and tigers, and use more advanced
technologies, including firearms and geographic posi-
tioning systems (Ellis 1994; Ellis & Reeve 1995; Leakey
2001; Duffy 2014; Nellemann et al. 2014; Harrison et al.
2015). However, the distinction between subsistence
and commercial hunting can be blurred because meat
may be hunted to supplement both diets and income
(Mackenzie et al. 2011; Vega et al. 2013). Furthermore,
illegal wildlife hunting for subsistence purposes can
become commercial. For example, subsistence hunting
can transform into commercial hunting in response
to the arrival of logging companies in remote forests,
where a workforce has to be fed or transport links give
easier access to urban markets (Nellemann et al. 2014;
Harrison et al. 2015). In a similar vein, hunting in conflict
zones (discussed below) cannot be easily categorized as
subsistence or commercial because it blends elements of
both (Redford 1992; Duffy 2010; Nellemann et al. 2014).
Poverty and Illegal Wildlife Hunting
Poverty is often perceived as the root cause of illegal
wildlife hunting because poor people hunt illegally to
satisfy basic material needs (Mackenzie et al. 2011; Twina-
matsiko et al. 2014; IUCN et al. 2015). For example, a
study of Bwindi National Park in Uganda showed that
those arrested for unauthorized activities in the national
park were significantly poorer and more likely to live
closer to the national park and farther from trading cen-
ters than others (Twinamatsiko et al. 2014). A recent
study on the links between poverty and wildlife crime
in Uganda indicated that one of the most effective ways
Conservation Biology
Volume 30, No. 1, 2016
16 Poverty and Illegal Wildlife Hunting
to reduce illegal wildlife hunting is poverty alleviation
(Harrison et al. 2015). Similarly, more effective involve-
ment of the rural poor in both development and con-
servation projects is also advocated (Roe 2008a; Roe
(ed) 2013; Sanderson & Redford 2003; Roe 2015; Roe
et al. 2015). However, poverty is a complex condition,
which makes these claims opaque. What form of poverty
and poverty alleviation are referred to? Challender and
MacMillan (2014) note, poverty is not a singular category,
and they draw attention to the importance of relative
poverty in driving illegal wildlife hunting. However, we
go a step further to argue that a much more sophisticated
analysis of what constitutes poverty, relative poverty, and
inequality are needed to develop a better understanding
of what the ultimate drivers of illegal wildlife hunting are.
We could not review debates on poverty in much detail
(but see Hulme 2010), but it is important to explain the
relevance of engaging with the meaning of poverty.
Within debates about conservation there has been
a tendency to rely on largely economic definitions of
poverty that focus on material deprivation. For example,
in a systematic review of evidence of the links between
poverty and biodiversity, 70% of published papers that
addressed poverty as part of conservation used income
as the key measure (Roe et al. 2014). It follows logically
that illegal wildlife hunting can supposedly be tackled
via provision of paid employment (e.g., as rangers and
tour guides), which increases levels of material wealth, or
alternative income generation or disbursement schemes,
such as development of markets for local agricultural pro-
duce or funds from selling safari hunts and photographic
tourism (Barrett & Arcese 1995; Adams & Infield 2002;
Roe et al. 2010; Spenceley & Meyer 2012). Based on this
logic, MacKenzie et al. (2011) suggest that because ille-
gal resource use in Kibale National Park, Uganda, is not
driven by food insecurity, then the approach of enforcing
exclusion of local communities is justified.
The argument that people hunt illegally because they
are materially poor is repeated in powerful policy are-
nas. For example, the International Conservation Cau-
cus Foundation (ICCF), which involves one-third of the
membership of the U.S. Congress, has stated that ex-
treme poverty in Africa is the source of illegal wildlife
hunting as well as radicalization (ICCF 2014). The same
view was expressed in the high-level meeting on illegal
wildlife trade hosted by the U.K. Government in May
2013 (Government of the United Kingdom 2013). We
do not dispute the argument that material deprivation
matters, but there are 3 problems with defining poverty
only in material terms. First, the understanding of poverty
is itself impoverished; it does not capture what being
poor means. Following Sen’s (1999) formulation, poverty
also encompasses a lack of power, prestige, voice, and
an inability to define one’s future and day-to-day activi-
ties, which are difficult to measure in quantifiable terms.
Second, it denies that the poor have agency and are able
to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. Accordingly, illegal
wildlife hunting may not simply be a way of averting want
and deprivation, it may be a means of seeking and affirm-
ing identity, status, lifeways, custom, and local prestige.
A current challenge for conservation is how to measure
human well-being (Milner-Gulland et al. 2014) and mul-
tidimensional poverty in order to capture factors such
as voice, prestige, and status (Sen 1999). It is critical to
develop an understanding of how such factors relate to
behaviors, such as illegal wildlife hunting, so that they
can be integrated into conservation measures.
MacDonald’s (2005) work on the Himalayan ibex tro-
phy hunting scheme in northern Pakistan underlines the
importance of this perspective (2005). Aiming to con-
serve a declining ibex population, the IUCN worked to es-
tablish a trophy-hunting scheme that required local peo-
ple to refrain from hunting, an activity they had engaged
in for centuries and sold hunting permits to international
hunters. The proceeds from the sale of permits were
split between local people and the national government.
However, the scheme failed to halt local ibex hunting,
largely because hunting was a source of prestige and sta-
tus. Distributing money from trophy hunts created new
sources of prestige. It did not remove all the incentives to
hunt because those controlling the money were different
from those who previously controlled the meat (also see
Marks 2001).
Third, defining poverty purely in economic terms al-
lows it to be presented as a technical issue that can be
solved through the provision of alternative sources of
income. This in turn lends itself to technical interventions
that are limited to economic incentives (e.g., alternative
livelihood schemes) and disincentives (e.g., enforcement
to make wildlife hunting illegal). But a broader approach
to understanding poverty (such as Sen’s analysis), would
see interventions aimed at reducing illegal wildlife hunt-
ing embedded or mainstreamed into wider development
initiatives that address the factors that drive the develop-
ment of illegal wildlife hunting in the first place (IUCN
et al. 2015).
Structure, Agency, and Illegal Wildlife Hunting
We suggest recasting the debate with a foundational ap-
proach in social sciences—that of structure and agency.
Those who debate structure and agency discuss the ex-
tent to which decisions made by individual agents are
constrained by the structural context in which they exist
(Hay 2002). A more thorough and robust engagement
with this key debate would allow for a fuller understand-
ing of why people hunt illegally.
Structural Approaches to Illegal Wildlife Hunting
Structural explanations emphasize the importance of the
wider context, which recognizes the complex role of
Conservation Biology
Volume 30, No. 1, 2016
Duffy et al. 17
international demand. Although material poverty may
encourage people to hunt illegally, such poverty can
only become a driver if there is demand from wealth-
ier communities (IFAW 2008; Duffy 2010; Ayling 2013;
Challender & Macmillan 2014). For example, a report by
TRAFFIC-ASIA examined the drivers of the illegal wildlife
trade and concluded that the increase in illegal trading
of wildlife was directly related to the rise in incomes in
Southeast Asia. This report added an oft-missed aspect,
namely the complexity of the networks involved and the
wide range of cultural, political, economic, and social
contexts in which these function. It linked local-level ru-
ral harvesters, professional hunters, traders, wholesalers
and retailers with the final consumers of wildlife in loca-
tions distant from the source of the product. The illegal
wildlife trade provided varying forms of economic sup-
port to different parts of the network: a source of regular
income, a safety net, or as profitable business (TRAFFIC
2008).
The importance of structural contexts are also
discernible in the ways that illegal wildlife hunting
has been used as a financial underpinning for conflicts
across Sub-Saharan Africa for some time, including
Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s Angola and Mozambique
in the 1980s, and the Great Lakes region since 1996
(Ellis 1994; Humphreys & Smith 2011, 2014). The rise
in illegal hunting in Central African Republic (CAR)
and its relationships to regional security issues (Chad,
Cameroon, CAR, and Gabon) was detailed in a report by
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon (UN 2013). Zakouma
National Park in Chad has also suffered hunting by rebel
groups to fund cross-border wars. Garamba National
Park in Democratic Republic of Congo was used as a
base by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2012, and
the LRA financed operations through the illegal hunting
and sale of elephant ivory (UN 2013; UNEP et al. 2013;
White 2014). However, these characterizations have
been questioned. Lombard suggests that linking illegal
ivory hunting to LRA and Janjaweed relies on simplistic
labels that are strategically used by governments in the
region to entice external help or to demonize illegal
hunters as outsiders from neighboring states (Lombard
2012; White 2014). Furthermore, conflicts can produce
large-scale population displacements and refugee camps;
refugees and internally displaced people can turn to
illegal wildlife hunting to feed themselves or to earn cash
income. A study by TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa found
that rations provided in refugee camps in Tanzania were
not sufficient, so refugees turned to hunting to meet
protein needs (Jambiya et al. 2007).
Hunting that is linked to the illegal international
wildlife trade is also portrayed as part of wider concerns
about national and global security risks. For example,
the chief executive officer and chairman of Conserva-
tion International, recently called poverty, extinction and
radicalism a “perfect storm” that threatens global sta-
bility (Conservation International 2013). Similarly, the
Wildlife Conservation Society has launched its 96 Ele-
phants campaign, which has 3 central pillars Humans
and Elephants, Terror and Ivory, and Heroes and Hope
that link poverty, regional instability, illegal wildlife hunt-
ing, and terrorism (Wildlife Conservation Society 2014).
Furthermore, some conservation nongovernmental orga-
nizations (NGOs) and national governments have tried
recently to claim that illegal wildlife hunting for ivory
in the Horn of Africa is being used to fund Al Shabaab
(a militia group based in Somalia but allied to Al Qaeda
since 2012). These claims were reported in a 2012 re-
port by Elephant Action League (EAL) (Kalron & Crosta
2012) and were taken up in the international media and in
policy discussions (Lawson & Vines 2014; White 2014).
Elsewhere, we questioned the evidence base of these
claims (the EAL report was based on very limited empiri-
cal research in Somalia) and contend that the blunt links
made between illegal hunting for ivory and terrorism are
overly simplistic (Duffy et al. 2015). A recent report from
UN United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and
INTERPOL note that claims Al Shabaab was trafficking
30.6 t of ivory per annum (representing 3600 ele-
phants per year) through southern Somalia are “highly
unreliable” and that the main sources of income re-
main charcoal trading and ex-pat finance (Nellemann
et al. 2014).
Furthermore, in making the link to global security, the
underlying reasons for the appearance and activities of
militia and rebel groups are left as a black box and are not
discussed. It means that complex social, economic, and
political issues are largely framed as a question around
the impact of illegal wildlife hunting on wildlife rather
than approaching them in more expansive and politically
sensitive ways that help us understand why people hunt
illegally in the first place. Brashares et al. (2014) partially
meet this need when they argue that policies to tackle
illegal wildlife hunting and trafficking need to look at un-
derlying causes, primarily by strengthening local tenure
over resources. This is important, but focusing solely on
tenure overlooks important factors. One needs to ex-
amine how social, economic, and political inequalities
are produced in the first place, how they might en-
courage individuals or communities to engage in illegal
wildlife hunting, and then tackle those, which is a much
larger task.
The significance of approaches that emphasize the
importance of structural context, indicate how context
constrains individual choice. Once this is understood,
one may be able to design better policy responses. These
could include tackling the historical removal of hunting
rights, dispossession from land to create protected areas,
creation of better education and employment opportuni-
ties in urban areas, and more rural-development efforts.
Put simply, we contend that structural approaches are
needed to shape and define possible policy responses to
Conservation Biology
Volume 30, No. 1, 2016
18 Poverty and Illegal Wildlife Hunting
tackle illegal wildlife hunting and that these will look very
different from current approaches.
Agential Approaches to Illegal Wildlife Hunting
The second set of explanations for illegal wildlife hunt-
ing draws on approaches that emphasize agency. Such
explanations acknowledge the influence of the wider
social context but place emphasis on the agency of in-
dividuals. Ultimately agential approaches are anchored
in the idea that people have the capacity to act inde-
pendently (Ostrom 2010; St. John et al. 2013) and re-
volve around understanding how individuals respond
to the circumstances they face; these approaches are
anchored in disciplines such as economics and social
psychology.
Economic analyses of human behavior are traditionally
underpinned by a model of rational choice. In such
analyses, rational actors aim to maximize their utility or
“level of satisfaction” (Janssen et al. 2010; Ostrom 2010).
Models of rational choice have made an important contri-
bution to understanding how people involved in illegal
wildlife hunting may respond to enforcement activities
such as ranger patrols. For example, Milner-Gulland
and Leader-Williams (1992) showed that the probability
of detection significantly influences decisions to hunt
rhinoceros and elephants illegally in the Luangwa Valley,
Zambia. Their models also suggest that local people
engage in illegal hunting and organized gangs react
differently to law enforcement. Integrated conservation
and development projects (ICDPs) may induce the
former to refrain from hunting illegally, the latter could
only be deterred through increased enforcement.
Models of rational decision makers have also been used
to explore decisions made by households that under-
take multiple livelihood activities (Milner-Gulland 2011).
These household utility models are comparable to those
used in agricultural and development economics and
have been used to explore how individual households
allocate labor to different livelihood activities (Milner-
Gulland 2012; also see Keane et al. 2008). A modeling
study by Damania et al. (2005) shows how ICDPs could
have unintended consequences. Their model provided
a premium price for crops in order to raise the oppor-
tunity cost of hunting, a common suggestion for reduc-
ing legal and illegal wildlife hunting. Counterintuitively,
their results indicate that although the proportion of la-
bor devoted to agriculture increases, the extra income is
invested in increased bushmeat consumption and new
hunting gear, which would perversely enable hunter-
farmers to target more vulnerable and commercially valu-
able species. The overall impact on reducing hunting
(legal and illegal) was ambiguous (Damania et al. 2005;
Milner-Gulland 2012).
The decisions individuals make are also influenced by
their preference for present over future benefits. With
respect to poor people living in rural areas of the global
South, these dynamics are poorly understood. For exam-
ple, it is assumed that the poor are preoccupied with
difficult livelihoods in the present and as a result have
high discount rates that result in overexploitation of local
resources to fulfill immediate needs. However, evidence
from food security analysts indicates that the poor often
eat less to preserve productive capital and chances of
producing food in the future. This calls into question the
commonly held view of poverty-induced environmental
degradation (Moseley 2001).
While still assuming that individuals make rational deci-
sions about how to act based on an evaluation of informa-
tion available to them, social psychologists use different
types of predictors from economists. Social psychologists
highlight interactions of internal (e.g., attitudes and val-
ues) and external (e.g., other people and availability of
resources) influences on behavior by measuring these
cognitive components (Manfredo et al. 2009; also see
Litchfield 2013). One influential approach is the theory of
planned behavior (Ajzen 1991). This theory states that a
person’s behavior can be predicted by 3 factors: attitude,
subjective norms (perceived social pressure), and per-
ceived degree of control over performing a behavior (e.g.,
availability of required knowledge, skills, and resources).
The relative importance these factors have on people’s
behavior differs from one behavior to another. For exam-
ple, Williams et al. (2012) show that training could en-
courage people to cultivate xat´
e(Chamaedorea ernesti-
augusti) in Belize rather over harvest wild plants. The
training focused on increasing technical knowledge and
developing a perception that individuals could succeed
in cultivating it; attitudes and norms barely influenced
this behavior. In contrast, attitudes and norms were both
important predictors of landowners’ intentions to con-
serve forest in the agricultural frontier of South American
Gran Chaco (Mastrangelo et al. 2013; also see a study
on illegal killing of jaguars [Panthera onca] by ranchers
[Marchini & Macdonald 2012]). Identifying which factors
most strongly relate to people’s intention to engage in
behaviors of conservation concern (e.g., illegal wildlife
hunting) can provide valuable insights when one seeks
to influence behavior.
The concept of individual agency is particularly perti-
nent to the discussion of illegal wildlife hunting. Based
on logical agential approaches, positive incentives (e.g.,
receipt of benefits) encourage compliance, whereas neg-
ative incentives (e.g., risk of punishment) deter rule
breaking. This notion is exemplified in discussions on
the illegal hunting of elephant and rhinoceros because
many arguments, both for and against legalized trade, are
based on the premise that individuals are incentivized
Conservation Biology
Volume 30, No. 1, 2016
Duffy et al. 19
by the promise of rewards (Biggs 2013a, 2013b; Duffy
2013).
Policy Implications
Debates about the structural and agential explanations
for illegal wildlife hunting matter; they are not simply
theoretical debates. They shape and inform conservation
strategies to address the problem on the ground, for bet-
ter or worse.
Many conservationists are aware of the complex
interlinkages between wider contexts and individual
motivations. Confronted with complex and pressing
challenges surrounding illegal wildlife hunting, those
responsible for protected area management, for example,
may implement approaches that tackle agential factors
as a short-term or immediate response (e.g., through
capacity building projects and community engagement
projects, see Baker et al. 2012) while working toward
addressing structural or contextual factors in the longer
term. However, their ability to produce the scale of
structural change needed to develop socially just forms
of conservation is limited. Specific conservation projects
(on their own) cannot overturn the social, economic,
and political factors that produce illegal wildlife hunting
in the first place; such fundamental change requires
much broader global scale shifts.
It is precisely because of the need to work at scale that
we should be aware of what sorts of explanation, and di-
agnoses of the problem, are employed. Explanations that
emphasize the importance of structural context question
the effectiveness of conservation interventions that are
built solely on the premise that either positive or negavie
incentives targeting individual behavior will lead to effec-
tive, sustainable solutions for biodiversity conservation.
Management of natural resources is widely dependent on
negative incentives and on rules prohibiting certain activ-
ities. Wider questions of social justice (that go beyond the
immediate concerns of economic deprivation) are not ad-
equately addressed. However, enforcement is financially
costly, and provision of adequate security prohibitively
expensive for many states (Jachmann & Billiouw 1997).
Critics of approaches to illegal wildlife hunting that rely
on the use of force and local community exclusion from
protected areas argue that it is important to address the
broader factors that produces illegal wildlife hunting in
the first place (Brockington et al. 2008; B¨
uscher 2013).
Reliance on deterrence creates poor relations between
conservation authorities and local people by restricting
access to resources that may have an important (or irre-
placeable) role (Infield 2001). Stern (2008) argues that
trust and legitimacy between protected-area staff and
local people are key factors for voluntary compliance,
where general agreement with formal regulations does
not necessarily exist.
Higher rates of illegal hunting in Africa are increasingly
used to justify the use of force, including greater use of
arms, shoot-to-kill policies, expansion of ranger numbers,
contracting of security services to the private sector, and
use of new technologies (drones, camera traps, thermal
imaging) (Duffy 2014; White 2014; Sandbrook 2015).
For instance, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon claims
that a more militarized approach to conservation law en-
forcement is needed (UN 2013). As we argue elsewhere,
greater levels of enforcement by states, NGOs, or private-
sector operators may produce quick fixes in the short
term, but they are problematic (Duffy et al. 2015). In the
Liwonde National park in Malawi, South African private
military company personnel were used to train the park
rangers. Later, park employees were implicated in over
300 deaths, 325 disappearances, 250 rapes, and numer-
ous instances of torture from 1998 to 2000 in this park
alone (Neumann 2004). Such forceful approaches can
be counter-productive and can alienate local communi-
ties (Peluso 1993; Neumann 2004; Dressler et al. 2010;
Lunstrum 2013).
Agential explanations for illegal wildlife hunting are
also discernible in the strategies that rely on systems of
positive incentives designed to encourage people to com-
ply with wildlife regulations. Positive incentives assume
that if money or benefits in kind are given to communi-
ties or individuals they will be encouraged to behave in
a certain way (e.g., refrain from illegal resource extrac-
tion). Since the 1980s, efforts to integrate local people
into conservation efforts have gained wide support (e.g.,
ICDPs and community based natural resource manage-
ment). Strategies for achieving participation have usually
focused on economic links between people in communi-
ties and protected areas. Most typically, this relates to the
potential income to be made from alternative livelihood
strategies, including safari tourism, trophy hunting, and
sale of products (Barrett & Arcese 1995; Roe et al. 2015).
The focus on economic incentives assumes that market
forces will protect the environment. The arguments de-
ployed in favor of incentives as a means of reducing illegal
wildlife hunting are apparent in claims that tourism can
reduce poverty, provide economic incentives to individ-
uals and communities, and encourage people to change
behaviors towards wildlife (UNEP et al. 2013). However,
despite a range of initiatives and considerable donor in-
vestment it has proved difficult to provide tangible bene-
fits from conservation to local communities, especially in
Sub-Saharan Africa. This can be because most protected
areas do not create sufficient revenue to off-set the costs
to communities of maintaining them (Emerton 1998;
Newmark & Hough 2000; Dressler et al. 2010) or because
the distribution of benefits is uneven (Bandyopadhyay &
Tembo 2010; Richardson et al. 2012). In addition, other
studies indicate that provision of alternative livelihoods
simply means they become additional rather than alter-
native sources of income; therefore, although household
Conservation Biology
Volume 30, No. 1, 2016
20 Poverty and Illegal Wildlife Hunting
well-being may increase, illegal wildlife hunting may con-
tinue (Ferraro & Kramer 1997; Ostrom 2010).
Explanations that emphasize the importance of struc-
tural context call into question the effectiveness of such
incentive schemes because they do not tackle the histor-
ical, economic, social, and political factors that produce
illegal wildlife hunting in the first place. These factors
could include problems arising from eviction and dis-
placement from protected areas. Addressing these factors
means conservationists should design approaches that
enhance wider forms of rural development to give local
communities a genuine range of choices (or freedoms in
Sen’s [1999] terms) to shape their own lives or at a mini-
mum that engage local communities as managers of and
participants in wildlife conservation schemes (Roe et al.
2015). More broadly, policies to tackle illegal wildlife
hunting would need to be embedded within and linked to
policies that promote just social, political, and economic
relations. The danger of policies promoting greater en-
forcement alone is that even if they could succeed in
creating small islands of relative peace inside protected
areas, they would not do anything and may in fact exac-
erbate the issues found beyond them, which ultimately
cause illegal wildlife hunting in the first place.
Conclusion
Our exploration of the literature on the links between
poverty and illegal wildlife hunting reveals that under-
standing is limited and conservationists need to take a
more expansive view of what constitutes illegal wildlife
hunting, what motivates people to hunt illegally, and how
to tackle the problem. Rather than simply seeing hunting
as a matter of legality or illegality, we suggest hunting
needs to be understood in its historical, social, and
political context (MacKenzie 1988). This means acknowl-
edging that some communities could regard laws that
criminalize their continued use of wildlife as unjust
precisely because these laws were instituted by colonial
regimes or post-independence states that communities
may regard as oppressive rather than representative.
The Kasane Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade (March
2015) acknowledges the importance of community
engagement much more fully than the earlier London
Declaration, which may allow for space to debate more
nuanced approaches.
Taking a more expansive view of what illegal wildlife
hunting is helps one critically assess the ways that links
are being developed between poverty, hunting, and se-
curity. It is clear that claims that illegal wildlife hunting
is driven by poverty (defined as material deprivation)
which leads to radicalization, and helps fund conflicts and
terrorism are based on limited information, but they have
been taken up with remarkable speed by a wide range
of organizations (including the U.S. government); the ac-
ceptance of such arguments relies on the simplistic idea
that poverty leads to radicalism and that illegal wildlife
hunting offers a revenue stream. This assumption has the
potential to persuade conservationists to engage in
counter-productive and forceful responses to illegal
wildlife hunting (Duffy et al. 2015). A further risk is that
in some areas as enforcement intensifies, illegal wildlife
hunting will shift to hunting of less well-protected
wildlife populations (Roe et al. 2015). More sophisticated
and nuanced understanding of these dynamics needs to
be developed.
To do so, we suggest conservation researchers engage
more fully with the social sciences, especially regarding
the meanings of poverty and the relative importance of
structure and agency (Sandbrook et al. 2013). This will
help reveal the underlying assumptions in debates about
the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting and
set the stage for a fresh approach. Therefore, we suggest
2 next steps for researchers and conservationists alike.
First, conduct, with a variety of methods, more research
into the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting
and use novel methods to investigate sensitive topics
(Nuno & St. John 2014) and conduct qualitative and
ethnographic work with illegal hunters themselves to
gain a better understanding of motivations. This research
should be accompanied by greater self-reflection by
researchers on how the initial framing of the issue
of illegal wildlife hunting helps shape and determine
the kinds of information produced. Second, based on
an improved understanding of illegal wildlife hunting,
devise responses to illegal wildlife hunting that address
social inequalities and are sensitive to historical, social,
political, and economic contexts. Effective responses
will require viewing illegal wildlife hunting as a challenge
related to development rather than purely conservation.
Acknowledgments
The authors are grateful to 3 anonymous reviewers and
2 editors for their comments on previous versions of
this paper. D.B. is grateful for the support of an ESRC
fellowship (RES-000-27-0174) for which he was able to do
the research leading to some of the arguments presented.
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Conservation Biology
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... Illegal hunting of wildlife is prevalent in Africa and has reached crisis levels, as wildlife populations are decimated in 52% of forests, 62% of wilderness areas and 20% of protected areas, thereby threatening sustainability in biodiversity conservation and community livelihoods [1,2]. Illegal hunting refers to any capturing, shooting, killing or extraction of wildlife that is not explicitly sanctioned by the state or private owner of wildlife [3][4][5], and has possibly persisted in Africa because intervention measures or responses to illegal hunting have been less effective [6]. The sustained illegal hunting is attributed to poor understanding of illegal hunting and what motivates people to hunt illegally [6] and emanates mainly from inadequate empirical information on illegal hunting, a narrow view that it is only a conservation matter and the assertion that it is mainly driven by poverty [5]. ...
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... However, some evidence does not support these assertions. Duffy et al. [5] indicated that the perspectives on illegal hunting were framed by certain understandings of poverty and that motivations for illegal hunting, such as those arising from complex historical context in regard to the outlaw of community, have not been adequately understood. Travers et al. [7] also found that a lack of alternative employment choices might be a more significant driver for hunters in Uganda than material poverty, which is contrary to the Sustainability 2022, 14, 11204 2 of 16 narrative that people hunt illegally because of poverty. ...
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... This generalized application of the EOCCA flattens the relations of the poaching economy, equating those who, for example, traffic in ivory with those who may be supplementing their diets with bushmeat. In other words, categorizingand prosecutingall who engage in the poaching economy as economic saboteurs ignores the diverse reasons as to why someone engages in poaching in the first place and, like many other responses to the Second Poaching Crisis, fails to address the drivers of the illegal wildlife trade (Challender and MacMillan, 2014;Duffy et al., 2016;Hauenstein et al., 2019;Knapp et al., 2017;Lunstrum and Givá, 2020). ...
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Having experienced significant declines in its wildlife populations, especially the elephant, Tanzania has embarked on a nation-wide anti-poaching program. These efforts are similar to those in regional countries and informed by security discourses that claim poaching is an issue of (inter)national security. However, far more widespread than the contemporary “poacher-as-terrorist” trope used to rationalize militarized conservation in other locations is Tanzania’s categorization of the poacher as an “economic saboteur,” who threatens the national economy. In this article, I show how this categorization is one aspect of a broader economic rationale directing the country’s increasingly militarized anti-poaching response. Here, the logic is that wildlife is central to the tourism industry, and critical for the economy, and therefore must be secured from its poacher enemies. Highlighting various examples of this economic threat discourse, the article details how conservation organizations and governmental actors, aiming to “stop the slaughter” of Tanzania’s elephant populations, utilize an economic rationality in their efforts to defend the value of wildlife to the Tanzanian economy. Premised on the desire to expand the economy, this economic rationale authorizes both the intensification of militarized conservation policy and practices and contradictory partnerships that arise within it, including with the extractive industries.
... Policies need to carefully define and understand what poverty and marginalization mean in a given situation and link these to drivers of prohibited hunting, poaching or resource collection (Duffy et al. 2016). Many conservation studies rely on economic definitions that emphasize income measures and ignore structural context, including cultural and ethnic relationships. ...
... Individual conservation programmes are not capable of overturning or reversing structural issues such as multidimensional poverty and historical mistrust between officials in power that often drive prohibited natural resource collection (Duffy et al. 2016). Any policy to reduce prohibited natural resource collection in CNP, and indeed any PA, must attempt to address these underlying issues as opposed to solely targeting individual behaviours. ...
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Protected areas (PAs) are critical for achieving conservation, economic and development goals, but the factors that lead households to engage in prohibited resource collection in PAs are not well understood. We examine collection behaviours in community forests and the protected Chitwan National Park in Chitwan, Nepal. Our approach incorporates household and ecological data, including structured interviews, spatially explicit data on collection behaviours measured with computer tablets and a systematic field survey of invasive species. We pair our data with a framework that considers factors related to a household’s demand for resources, barriers to prohibited resource collection, barriers to legal resource collection and alternatives to resource collection. The analysis identifies key drivers of prohibited collection, including sociodemographic variables and perceptions of an invasive plant ( Mikania micrantha ). The social-ecological systems approach reveals that household perceptions of the presence of M. micrantha were more strongly associated with resource collection decisions than the actual ecologically measured presence of the plant. We explore the policy implications of our findings for PAs and propose that employing a social-ecological systems approach leads to conservation policy and scientific insights that are not possible to achieve with social or ecological approaches alone.
... These crimes are recognised to be a significant threat to biodiversity, driving many species towards extinction. As mentioned by Duffy et al. (2016), most of the published scientific literature addressed the links between poverty and wildlife poaching, relating the poaching behaviour to poverty, inequalities or to a lack of alternative livelihood strategies. Even if this is particularly the case in many African countries (Brack & Hayman, 2002;Crookes et al., 2007;De Merode et al., 2004;Fa et al., 2003;Robinson & Bennet, 2002), this assumption does not identify all the forces driving this practice. ...
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One of Nepal's most significant strategies for biodiversity protection is biodiversity conservation policy. Despite a significant paradigm shift in Nepalese policies and huge success in community-based conservation, conservation efficiency and proficiency remain low in Karnali. This pause results in ineffective policy implementation. Through a literature analysis, this study seeks to assess policy coherence and challenges within three levels of government conservation policies. The findings show that the components of central top-down non-participatory biodiversity conservation policies share consistent characteristics, such as the use of multiple policy tools, which can be either macro or micro, as well as short-term or long-term policies involving multiple actors at multiple levels. These policies often complement one another regarding the ownership, use, and management of natural resources, particularly forests. However, various findings have highlighted discrepancies, overlaps, and shortcomings in biodiversity protection and commonly shared resources. Despite global recognition as Important Bird Areas and the growing ecological concern of global and national conservation societies in Jajarkot, Jumla, Humla, Dolpa, and Kalikot, it is still not reflected fully in relevant federal policies. There is a lack of a specific policy agenda and responsive policies with federal, provincial, and local governments to promote its conservation. Hence, the paper's discussion considers active community participation as the applicable measure for integrated biodiversity conservation and development strategies with greater conservation impact.
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The hunting of wild animals for their meat has been a crucial activity in the evolution of humans. It continues to be an essential source of food and a generator of income for millions of Indigenous and rural communities worldwide. Conservationists rightly fear that excessive hunting of many animal species will cause their demise, as has already happened throughout the Anthropocene. Many species of large mammals and birds have been decimated or annihilated due to overhunting by humans. If such pressures continue, many other species will meet the same fate. Equally, if the use of wildlife resources is to continue by those who depend on it, sustainable practices must be implemented. These communities need to remain or become custodians of the wildlife resources within their lands, for their own well-being as well as for biodiversity in general. This title is also available via Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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Subsistence poaching threatens the persistence of wildlife populations worldwide and the well-being of people who participate in poaching. We conducted interviews around Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda to assess the acceptability of poaching. Conflict with wildlife was the most important factor determining attitudes towards poaching and the tools of the trade. More than 80% of the respondents living within 5 km of the park boundary had never been inside the park. Additionally, the provision of goats as incentives to people did not influence attitudes but increased human-wildlife conflict. This implies that acceptability of poaching among people living in close proximity to wildlife is influenced by the nature of the interaction between people and protected areas, but more importantly, limiting positive interaction can create negative consequences. Our results emphasize the importance of providing remedies compatible with local livelihoods and conditions and show that negative experience with wildlife builds intolerance.
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Nous sommes à l'aube d’une crise d’extinction mondiale. Les activités humaines créent une végétation secondaire abondante qui attire les éléphants, les rapprochant des établissements humains (Barnes, Barnes, Alers & Blom, 1991; Barnes, 1999 ; Lahm, 1996; Sam, 1999). En effet, les zones où les populations locales exercent leurs activités sont réputées pour être fréquentées par les éléphants d'Afrique, résultant en un phénomène déplorable pour les habitants et donnant lieu à des rencontres entre les hommes et les éléphants. Ces rencontres sont appelées "Conflit Homme-éléphant". Les conflits homme-éléphant (CHE) posent un grave problème en Afrique à la fois pour les moyens de subsistance locaux et à la fois pour la conservation des éléphants. Les dommages causés par les éléphants sont le prix que les populations locales paient pour coexister avec cette espèce. Cependant, les projets liés à la conservation, par les avantages qu'ils offrent, peuvent renforcer l'intolérance locale envers les éléphants. Alors que le monde continue de se développer et de s'étendre, le manque d'espace devient rapidement la principale préoccupation de la faune. Naturellement, les espèces prédominantes occupent la terre et, alors que la race humaine continue de s'étendre (malgré un manque flagrant de ressources), les animaux sont obligés de négocier leur habitat. En effet, pour des raisons d'occupation de l'espace et d'accès aux ressources naturelles, la cohabitation entre l'homme et la faune sauvage a toujours été conflictuelle (FAO, 2020). L'expansion des infrastructures et des champs agricoles à travers l'Afrique a entraîné une perte généralisée de l'habitat des éléphants et une diminution significative des populations d'éléphants par rapport à leur taille historique et à leur aire de répartition globale (Thouless et al, 2016, Calabrese et al, 2017, Shaffer et al, 2019). Face à la pression démographique et le consumérisme humain, davantage de terres sont converties en terres agricoles. Dans cette mesure, les terres des éléphants sont fragmentées et diminuées, amenant les éléphants à entrer en contact avec les populations humaines. Le "problème éléphant" apparaît dès lors. La plupart de l'habitat des éléphants s'étend toujours en dehors des zones protégées, et la croissance rapide des populations humaines et l'extension de l'agriculture dans les parcours et les forêts autrefois jugées impropres à l'agriculture signifient que l'habitat des éléphants continue de disparaître. Ces conflits, entre les hommes et les éléphants, sont une réelle menace pour la conservation de la biodiversité. Dans ce contexte, l'atténuation des conflits entre les populations locales et les éléphants est un enjeu crucial dans la conservation de l'espèce.
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Background There is an explicit assumption in international policy statements that biodiversity can help in efforts to tackle global poverty. This systematic map was stimulated by an interest in better understanding the evidence behind this assumption by disaggregating the terms and asking - as our review question - which components or attributes of biodiversity influence which dimensions of poverty? Methods We employed a search strategy that covered peer-reviewed and grey literature. Relevant studies included in the map were those that described an interaction by poor people with biodiversity in non-OECD countries and documented some kind of contribution (positive or negative) to different aspects of their well-being. Results A total of 387 studies were included in the final systematic map. Of these 248 met our additional criteria that studies should include a measure of the contribution to poverty alleviation. The studies were widely distributed geographically. Ecological distribution was less well spread, however, with the largest number of studies focussed on forests. We found studies addressing 12 different dimensions of poverty/well-being – although the most commonly studied was income. Similarly we found studies addressing all levels of biodiversity from genes to ecosystems. The largest number of studies was focussed on groups of resources – particularly non-timber forest products. In most cases, abundance was the attribute that made biodiversity important for poverty alleviation/well-being, while diversity was the least frequently noted attribute. Conclusions The map highlights a number of apparent gaps in the evidence base. Very few studies documented any causal link between use of biodiversity and an impact on poverty. In the majority of the studies biodiversity was framed in terms of its value as a resource – in the form of specific goods that can be used to generate tangible benefits such as cash, food fuel. Very few studies explored the underpinning role of biodiversity in ecosystem service delivery for poverty alleviation, and fewer investigated the benefits of diversity as a form of insurance or adaptive capacity. This is where we suggest research should be prioritised.
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"'A critical and unique contribution to the study of nature conservation'-Professor Steven Brechin, Syracuse University" "The perilous state of endangered species such as tigers and rhinos, and the worldwide illegal trade in ivory, diamonds, bushmeat and many other rare and valuable commodities, are familiar issues in the West. The heroes in these narratives are those who work to create protected areas for wildlife; the villains the shadowy poachers and smugglers who destroy endangered animals and their habitats for the sake of profit." "In this groundbreaking book, Rosaleen Duffy argues that the story is much more complex than this. She analyses the workings of the black-market wildlife industry, pointing out that illegal trading is often the direct result of Western consumer desires, from coltan for mobile phones to caviar for the global elite. She looks at how tourists contribute, often unwittingly, to the destruction of natural environments. Most strikingly, she argues that the imperatives of Western-style conservation often result in serious injustice to local people, who are at risk of losing not only heir land but sometimes even their lives." "The result of many years of first-hand research, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the complex realities of nature conservation.".
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This Article assesses the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in terms of its history, structure, and achievements. In the context of global environmental issues and the international organizations set up in response, the Article explores the institutional and political reasons for UNEP's failure to meet all expectations. The Article reviews such successes as the Regional Seas Programme and identifies fundamental philosophical flaws in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration. Finally, it suggests how and why UNEP must be improved.
Chapter
At a meeting of US and Soviet climatologists in Leningrad in 1982 I became aware of the sensitivity of the Arctic to climate change resulting from increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The eminent Soviet climate specialist, Mikhail Budyko, suggested that we had set in motion a sequence of events that would lead to melting of the Arctic ice pack by 2100, and that would have grave consequences for the entire planet. But what is happening is not gradual warming, and the increasing number of weather events suggest that our planet is beginning to move from one climate state to another. Rather than ‘Global Warming’ we should speak of ‘Global Weirding.’ I have been a life-long academic. I started out my research as a micropaleontologist, studying tiny microscopic fossils. Then I became interested in oceanography and finally in Earth’s past climate. I have spent the last 40 years trying to understand the warm climate of the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Science is a search for the truth, wherever it may lead. There is no good or evil in such a search. There are two different kinds of scientific investigation. One group of sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology, performs and evaluates the results of experiments. Geology and astronomy are different in that they must rely largely on interpretation of observations. In both cases, the results of the investigations lead to ideas that can be tested, either by new experiments or by observations. These preliminary explanations are termed ‘hypotheses.’ If they stand the test of time and intensive experimentation, they become theories. ‘Occam’s razor’ is the principle that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be correct. And if it is concluded that a theory is absolutely correct, it is termed a Law. Note that the general public often uses the term ‘theory’ to correspond to a scientists ‘hypothesis.’