This research project has the objective to compare the effect of three different approaches on communities’ cooperation behaviour in order to reduce illegal harvesting of wildlife resources. The research results will provide policy makers and development practitioners with empirically grounded evidence, which allows them to improve their wildlife management strategies and policies.
Wildlife is increasingly becoming an important livelihood activity for most rural households living adjacent to national parks in Sub-Saharan Africa through tourism activities, selling craft, and leasing trophy hunting concessions. A significant proportion of wildlife is managed by local communities as a common pool resource (CPR) under community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) arrangements. One of the biggest challenges of common pool resources under joint-use arrangements is lack of cooperation among its users, leading to high poaching incidences in some areas and declining animal populations in others. The Communal Area’s Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe is regarded by many scholars as a good example where local communities are managing and benefiting from wildlife conservation. However, there is substantial evidence demonstrating that illegal harvesting of wildlife resources is still a major problem in some of the CAMPFIRE communities.
This project focuses on factors that affect illegal harvesting of wildlife resources (behaviour of local communities) such as knowledge of the resource system, endogenous punishment and communication among resource users. The main objective of this study is to compare these three factors in terms of their effects on cooperation. Specifically, this study seeks to address two questions:
- Is punishment superior to communication and knowledge of the resource system?
- Which treatment or combination of treatments results in higher cooperation?
This study uses framed field experiments to collect data from 25 local CAMPFIRE communities involved in wildlife conservation around the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. The data from the experiments will be complemented by a survey on participants’ household and socio-economic characteristics. Both survey and experimental data will be used in regression analysis to examine i.e. the factors affecting the level of cooperation in a community.