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Protected areas and rural livelihoods: Contrasting systems of wildlife management in the Democratic Republic of Congo

de Merode, Emmanuel; (1998) Protected areas and rural livelihoods: Contrasting systems of wildlife management in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This multi-disciplinary study examines the ecological, social and economic consequences of wildlife management within the Garamba ecosystem in the north east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This protected area system comprises a national park, which is formally managed by state conservation authorities and where human resource use and settlement is prohibited. The national park is surrounded by hunting reserves, which contain resident human populations. The wildlife in the reserves is informally managed by socially defined user groups who derive financial and other benefits from wildlife resources. These systems are used to compare how different wildlife management practices meet conservation and local development objectives. Long term ecological data are used to examine spatial and temporal variations in species distribution and abundance in relation to wildlife management and human related activities. Using ground transect and remote sensing techniques, spatial variations in species richness and abundance are compared to the presence of agricultural communities, local markets and wildlife protection areas. Sampled aerial count data, collected over two decades by the Park authorities, are analysed to compare the temporal variations in animal abundance under different wildlife protection regimes. These ecological findings indicate that centralised wildlife protection meets conservation objectives because regulation is associated with high species richness and abundance. However, an analysis of local resource use priorities indicates that the existing protectionist approaches implemented by the centralised authorities cannot contribute to local development objectives. Against this ecological background, several hypotheses are tested to examine the extent to which existing forms of wildlife management and utilisation can meet both conservation and development priorities. Analyses, using survey data from local households, hunters, and markets, provide the basis for examining the significance of wild foods to local livelihoods and the potential for sustainable harvesting and local regulation of wildlife offtake. Patterns of resource use at the household level are analysed to understand the relationship between wealth status and resource use. Conservation behaviour amongst hunters is examined by testing the evidence for restraint during the hunt. These modes of enquiry provide a basis for understanding people's motivation to exploit natural resources sustainably. Analysis of the bushmeat trade using anthropological methods (exploring bushmeat commodity chains, or filières) and economic models shows that the use of bushmeat is socially regulated by local power relations between traditional, civil and military authorities. The period of intense conflict in the region between 1996 and 1997 reveals the patterns of wildlife offtake in the absence of state and informal regulatory systems. The combination of long term ecological data with detailed socio economic variables provides an innovative approach to examining the impacts of centralised and informal systems of wildlife management. This study makes a direct contribution to current debates surrounding the impact of regulatory and consumption based models of wildlife management.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Protected areas and rural livelihoods: Contrasting systems of wildlife management in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Democratic Republic of Congo; Wildlife management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106649
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