Environmental Conservation

THEMATIC SECTION: Interdisciplinary Progress in Environmental Science & Management

Multi-faceted approaches to understanding changes in wildlife and livelihoods in a protected area: a conservation case study from the Central African Republic

CAROLYN A. JOST ROBINSONa1 c1, LESLEY L. DASPITa1 and MELISSA J. REMISa1

a1 Department of Anthropology, Purdue University, 700 West State Street, Stone Hall Suite 219, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA

SUMMARY

Commercialized hunting and trade of wildlife are the largest threats to mammal populations and human livelihoods in the Congo Basin. It is widely recognized that the lives of humans and wildlife in this region are inextricably intertwined. However, few studies have attempted to integrate both human and wildlife dimensions using ethnographic data to better contextualize the trade and its ecological impacts. This paper outlines a methodological approach that combines ethnographic research, ecological line transects and market surveys in the Dzanga Sangha Reserve (Central African Republic). Results from each research component are reported separately in order to provide examples of how each would answer specific questions about the status of wildlife populations and the scale of hunting within a protected area. The integrated analysis of ethnographic, market and ecological datasets clarifies synergistic impacts operating in the region and provides a more nuanced understanding of changes in both the forest and the market based on information gleaned from hunting practices and hunter interviews. This research demonstrates the potential pitfalls of using a singular approach to make recommendations on complex human-environment issues. Such cross-disciplinary mixed-methods approaches will further understandings of dynamic wildlife populations and forge more informed environmental policy recommendations.

(Received February 14 2010)

(Accepted October 11 2010)

(Online publication March 07 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence: Carolyn Jost Robinson e-mail: cjost@purdue.edu