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Supplying the wildlife trade as a livelihood strategy in a biodiversity hotspot

Robinson, Janine E, Griffiths, Richard A., Fraser, Iain M., Raharimalala, Jessica, Roberts, David L., St. John, Freya A.V. (2018) Supplying the wildlife trade as a livelihood strategy in a biodiversity hotspot. Ecology and Society, 23 (1). p. 13. ISSN 1708-3087. E-ISSN 1708-3087. (doi:10.5751/ES-09821-230113)

Abstract

Much of the global wildlife trade is sourced from biodiversity-rich developing countries. These often have high levels of poverty and habitat loss, particularly in rural areas where many depend on natural resources. However, wildlife collection may incentivize local people to conserve habitats that support their livelihoods. Here we examined the contribution of the commercial collection of live animals to rural livelihoods in Madagascar, one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots. Using questionnaires, we investigated the prevalence, profitability relative to other livelihood activities, and local importance of the trade, and its capacity to provide incentives for conservation. Thirteen percent of households were engaged in live animal collection in the study area (~5% trapped reptiles and amphibians and the remainder trapped invertebrates). This formed part of a diverse livelihood strategy, and was more profitable than other activities (in terms of returns per unit of effort), with median earnings of ~US$100 per season (~25% of Gross National Income per year). However, trapping was part-time, usually undertaken by poorer members of the community, and often perceived as opportunistic, risky, and financially unreliable. Further, trappers and nontrappers held similar perceptions regarding conservation, suggesting wildlife trade currently does not incentivize enhanced stewardship of traded species and their habitats. Our study brings together a range of methodologies to present the most comprehensive insights into livelihoods and conservation in poor rural communities involved in the commercial collection of live animals to supply international trade. This improved understanding of the wider socioeconomic dimensions of wildlife trade can inform policy and management interventions for both the threats and opportunities associated with global trade in biodiversity both in Madagascar and more generally.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.5751/ES-09821-230113
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biodiversity Conservation Group
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biodiversity Management Group
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: David Roberts
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2018 12:37 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:43 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/65806 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Fraser, Iain M.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4689-6020
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