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2014-03-06 | Research Brief

Abalone Conservation in the Presence of Drug Use

Muchapondwa, Edwin and Martine Visser. 2014. “Abalone Conservation in the Presence of Drug Use”
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Combatting Poaching by Empowering Local Communities and Targeting Organised Crime.

The illegal exploitation of wild abalone in South African coastal communities has been escalating since 1994, despite increased enforcement. This paper formulates a model of the poacher’s decision-making process to explore why poaching has not subsided. What is unique to this model is that the researchers incorporate the specifics of the local South African context, coupling the high value of abalone with the prevalence of both bribery and corruption, and the presence of recreational drugs within local communities. Two context-specific policy measures are proposed to alleviate poaching. The first measure relates to weakening demand for abalone by targeting enforcement at organised crime syndicates. The second measure relates to giving local coastal communities the authority to manage the resources. For community management to be effective in this setting, however, local coastal community members would need to be empowered to deal with organised crime groups. Complementary measures to bring back community patriotism will also be needed, given the tattered social fabric of the local coastal communities.