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The impact of armed conflict on protected-area efficacy in Central Africa.

de Merode, E; Smith, KH; Homewood, K; Pettifor, R; Rowcliffe, M; Cowlishaw, G; (2007) The impact of armed conflict on protected-area efficacy in Central Africa. Biol Lett , 3 (3) 299 - 301. 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0010.

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What determines the vulnerability of protected areas, a fundamental component of biodiversity conservation, to political instability and warfare? We investigated the efficacy of park protection at Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo) before, during and after a period of armed conflict. Previous analysis has shown that bushmeat hunting in the park increased fivefold during the conflict, but then declined, in conjunction with changes in the sociopolitical structures (social institutions) that controlled the local bushmeat trade. We used park patrol records to investigate whether these changes were facilitated by a disruption to anti-poaching patrols. Contrary to expectation, anti-poaching patrols remained frequent during the conflict (as bushmeat offtake increased) and decreased afterwards (when bushmeat hunting also declined). These results indicate that bushmeat extraction was determined primarily by the social institutions. Although we found a demonstrable effect of anti-poaching patrols on hunting pressure, even a fourfold increase in patrol frequency would have been insufficient to cope with wartime poaching levels. Thus, anti-poaching patrols alone may not always be the most cost-effective means of managing protected areas, and protected-area efficacy might be enhanced by also working with those institutions that already play a role in regulating local natural-resource use.

Title:The impact of armed conflict on protected-area efficacy in Central Africa.
Keywords:Biodiversity, Commerce, Conservation of Natural Resources, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Law Enforcement, Meat, Social Conditions, Socioeconomic Factors, War
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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