Wildlife conservation in Central Africa is a challenging endeavor because protected areas exist in complex social landscapes. Conflicts between stakeholders with multiple interests over natural resources, land, and wildlife pose some of the difficult problems facing conservationists and require scientific, social, and ethical approaches for resolution. To protect wildlife, managers at Conkouati-Douli National Park in southern Republic of Congo use zoning and law enforcement strategies to legally dictate how stakeholder groups use the natural resources.
I examine these strategies and suggest that the ways stakeholders value and use the natural environment can elucidate conflicts surrounding wildlife conservation. Drawing from history, anthropology, and ecology, I examine conservation on both a macro and village level. At a macro level, stakeholder conflicts over industrial exploitation and hunting threaten zoning efforts to protect wildlife populations. Weak government authority to enforce zoning, coupled with divergent stakeholders aims and abilities, hinder effective conservation of the Park.
At a village-level focus, I examine the relationship between rural peoples, wildlife, and the National Park. People use wildlife for food and their livelihoods. Results from ecological surveys reveal human populations inside the Park negatively influence wildlife populations, and low overall mammal densities that declined with proximity to villages. A study on food consumption reveals that because the bushmeat trade is so lucrative, villagers have switched to fish proteins that come from either the Park or urban centers. Such a study provides insight into patterns and drivers of protein switching in tropical forests. It also reveals a generational change, which is behind the change in protein diets, and the over harvesting of wild proteins. Overhunting has induced Park management to engage in law enforcement, which adversely affects the livelihoods of rural families by reducing income, increasing women's labor demands, and reducing access to hospitals and schooling. Law enforcement appears effective in the short-term at reducing hunting and bushmeat trafficking, but it may also weaken prospects for long-term conservation because it increases local residents' animosity towards conservation initiatives, organizations, and personnel. The studies demonstrate the importance of understanding the values and uses of natural resources by other stakeholders, and the need to communicate in conservation efforts.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisors: Tamara Giles-Vernick and Todd Arnold. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 213 pages, appendices 1-4. Includes ill. maps (some col.)
Wieland, Michelle Lynn.
Wildlife conservation in social, economic, and ecological contexts: multiple stakeholders and extraordinary resource value in a Congolese National Park..
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