Wildlife resource utilisation and rural livelihoods in mukungule game management area, Mpika, Zambia
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Wildlife utilisation for livelihoods frequently conflicts with conservation, raising challenges of integrating rural livelihood issues into conservation agendas. However, the reality of wildlife utilisation in rural areas, especially Game Management Areas cannot be stated simply; it is a multifaceted problem linked to poverty, infrastructure underdevelopment, people’s traditions and perceptions, and sometimes the political atmosphere exemplified in government’s formulation and implementation of GMA policy. This study aimed at investigating how wildlife utilisation and rural livelihood activities affect conservation. The objectives of the study included the identification of the drivers of wildlife utilisation in Mukungule Game Management Area in northern Zambia; exploring the effects of rural livelihoods activities on wildlife conservation; and assessing the impacts of wildlife management policy on rural livelihoods. As such, the questions driving this study were: What are the drivers of bush meat utilisation? How can rural livelihood activities affect wildlife conservation? How do wildlife management policies affect access to livelihood resources for rural communities? Semi-structured and structured interviews were conducted throughout Mukungule Game Management Area to generally explore the links between wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods. Drivers of bush meat utilisation that were identified included income, protein needs, culture, human-wildlife conflict, lack of knowledge and poor governance. The activities that affected wildlife conservation in Mukungule Game Management Area were activities that mostly utilised natural resources, such as poaching, bush burning, charcoal production and chitemene system of farming. When the impacts of wildlife management policies on rural livelihoods were assessed, it was noted that the impact was related to problems about the equitable sharing of benefits of wildlife conservation. The study also showed that conservation programmes often do not compromise local livelihoods and most people can usually access required livelihood resources. However, even if Mukungule Game Management Area residents are aware of practices which are detrimental to wildlife conservation (such as illegal hunting and bush burning), wildlife utilisation becomes an alternative livelihood activity when primary livelihood activities fail. Eventually, their ‘traditional’ activities like hunting conflict with conservation goals. The study concludes that persistent low diversity in livelihood options intensifies utilisation of wildlife resources, highlighting the vulnerability of rural households as well as the need for viable alternatives in times when primary livelihoods are under stress. It was also noted that rural livelihoods are connected to poverty and development and the political structures in rural areas. Finally, the study recommends the need to develop localised conservation programmes because it helps people to identify with conservation efforts, thereby reducing negative responses to conservation. Therefore, this study is significant because it contributes to a better understanding of wildlife utilisation by rural communities and the value they place on conservation of wildlife. The study is also important because it can help the government in reviewing game management policies to enhance wildlife conservation, and can help non-governmental conservation organisations to formulate programmes aimed at reducing people’s reliance on unsustainable harvesting of wildlife resources.
University of Zambia
National parks and reserves--Public use--Zambia
National parks and resreves--Zambia--Management
Mukungule Game Management Area--Zambia
MSC Natural Sciences