Why Poachers Persist In Hunting Bushmeat - Even Though It’s Dangerous

Discussion in 'Articles' started by NamStay, May 9, 2018.

  1. NamStay

    NamStay AH Enthusiast

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    The illegal hunting of bushmeat, or game meat, has long distressed wildlife conservationists. It has persisted in sub-Saharan Africa, attracting international attention and debate. Enforcement by authorities and community-based initiatives have been tried as anti-poaching approaches, but with mixed results. Overall, wildlife populations have continued to plummet.

    Why has poaching refused to go away? The answer, as suggested by poachers themselves, is simple: because poaching pays.

    We conducted a study with poachers in western Tanzania. Our findings shed new light on what motivates people to poach and shows that poachers benefit considerably while the costs are negligible. The study also knocks down the general perception about who poachers are – they’re not necessarily the poorest of the poor. Rather than hunting for basic subsistence, they take risks to widen their livelihood options and improve their situation.

    Our research therefore suggests that current approaches to dealing with poaching are misplaced for a simple reason: poachers vary widely. Bottom-up, or community-based, interventions like providing meat at a reduced cost, are unlikely to work unless the benefits can offset what they gain through poaching. And for those who are poaching out of necessity, top-down measures, like longer prison sentences or greater fines, are unlikely to be effective because they don’t have alternative ways to make an income.

    Cost benefit analysis
    Our study focused on individuals who lived in villages that bordered two premier national parks in Tanzania: Serengeti National Park and Ruaha National Park.

    We interviewed 200 poachers, asking them questions about their lives, livelihood alternatives and motivations for poaching. Respondents volunteered information freely and were neither paid nor given incentives for their participation.

    We found that illegal hunters are making rational decisions. They earn far more through hunting than through all the other options combined for rural farmers. Over a 12-month period, poachers on average generated US$425. This is considerably more than the amount earned through typical means – such as trade, small business, livestock sales and agricultural sales – which amount to about US$258 each year.

    Obviously, benefits are meaningless unless compared to the costs involved. Hunting large animals in the bush carries economic and physical risks. Hunters could get injured, risk imprisonment or lose the opportunity to farm or do other forms of legitimate business.

    But, in places like rural Tanzania, the benefits outweigh these costs.

    Where farming is the main income generator, there is lots of time available to hunt between planting and harvesting seasons. And with high formal unemployment, labour in a typical household is rarely a limiting factor. We compared poaching and non-poaching households and found that the opportunity costs forfeited by poaching households amounted to just US$116, far below the amount gained through bushmeat sales of US$425. Because other income generating opportunities are few and pay little, poachers have little to lose by poaching.

    Other economic costs may come in the form of arrests, imprisonment and subsequent fines. Each time a poacher entered the bush, he faced a 0.07% chance of being arrested. Once arrested, poachers may be fined, imprisoned, beaten or let off. Two-thirds of poachers had never been arrested. Those who had spent just 0.04 days in prison when averaged over a career of 5.2 years. Of those arrested, just over half (56%) had been fined, with fines averaging US$39. For every trip taken, poachers paid just two cents when averaged over their career.

    The story here is simple. The majority of poachers never get arrested. And those who do pay a penalty that is paltry compared to the income typically earned.

    Physical costs, including injury and possibly even death, have been far more difficult to assess. Outside Serengeti National Park, dangerous wildlife was frequently encountered in the bush and one-third of the poachers questioned had been injured during their hunting careers. Recovery times averaged slightly more than a month. But when averaged over the number of days a poacher spends in the bush (1,901 days), the likelihood of being injured on any given day was remarkably low, just 0.02%.

    Still, poaching isn’t easy. Eight in ten respondents claimed it was a difficult activity and that they did it primarily because they didn’t make enough money from legal activities.

    Moderately poor
    Poverty has long been assumed to be a primary driver of poaching activities, however it may not be that poachers are the poorest of the poor.

    Our analysis of poachers living along the borders of Ruaha National Park, revealed that they are poor, but not absolutely poor. In the language of the economist Jeffrey Sachs, many poachers may be “moderately poor”. They are unlikely to go hungry in the short term and are able to focus more on expanding their livelihood options.

    Regarding their economic self-perception, these poaching households were similar to non-poaching households. Over half (54%) of poaching households considered themselves economically “average” rather than “poor”.

    So, if poachers don’t consider themselves to be poor and consider poaching difficult, why do they do it? The answer may lay in a concept that the Nobel Peace Prize winner Amartya Sen has called “capability deprivation”.

    Many poachers lack choices by which to improve their lives. They lack access to income which reduces their chances for further education or entrepreneurial opportunity. Deprived of capabilities to make a better life, many poachers —- at least in Tanzania —- continue to poach to gain agency, rather than just to make ends meet.

    One respondent, outside Ruaha National Park, stated that after poaching for six years, he gave it up. His livestock numbers had grown enough to ensure sufficient income the whole year through. This poacher’s story reveals that some threshold of affluence is attainable for longtime poachers to curb illegal activity.

    Results here present a new twist for those seeking to protect dwindling wildlife populations. It means that strategies to stop poaching can no longer focus merely on the poorest of the poor. Without other ways to improve their livelihoods, even poachers who can meet their basic needs will continue poaching. For one really simple reason: it pays.


    Source: https://theconversation.com/why-poachers-persist-in-hunting-bushmeat-even-though-its-dangerous-95047
     

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  2. spike.t

    spike.t AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Ambassador

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    Commercial meat poaching.....not even going to say anymore , as my opinion on what the options we should be allowed to use to combat it wouldn't go well .....
     
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  3. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Average annual earnings of $258. Just about says it all. Even in Africa.
     
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  4. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    My idea is to have food plots for things like small antelope and pigs in places where bushmeat poaching is really intense. Then you let them get really busy and you have a nice prey base. That should at least take care of those looking to feed their families and you have some source of income.
     

  5. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Alternatively, the countries and areas most impacted could really promote hunting. This would have two principal effects:

    1. The hunting would bring employment and income to the areas; and

    2. The meat would be made available to the local population.

    Net effect: The locals still get the meat, but they also get income and employment. Hunting is regulated, so not over done, and the commercial poaching, and the waste that comes with it, should be materially reduced, if not eliminated.
     
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  6. WAB

    WAB AH Enthusiast

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    If you want to stop poaching you have to solve the economic problem and create a better alternative for the people making this choice. Would you poach if it was the only way to support your family and provide a better future for your children?
     

  7. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Of course I would poach if it was necessary to feed my family, as would anyone, I expect.

    But as I think @spike.t would tell you, most of these poachers are running commercial operations. Large scale poaching inevitably results in equally large scale waste of meat, not to mention the suffering of wildlife. Regulated hunting allows people to get what they need - food - as well as employment and income. Seems a win-win.
     

  8. Von S.

    Von S. AH Enthusiast

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    I have to go with spike.t ,

    Sure, one could becry the plight of the native inhabitants in the same way one could cry about Haitians.

    If it wasn't for the idea that at any minute they will take what you own by force, africa could be full of progress and jobs for all.

    At one time every baseball in the world was made in Haiti, but when greed and stupidity got the better of them and the government wanted more money per ball than it's retail worth. Then they seized the machinery and another ball has never been produced their.
     

  9. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    Yea having industry and jobs in these economic deserts would help big time. I just thought of what would kill the most birds with one stone
     

  10. WAB

    WAB AH Enthusiast

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    In total I’ve spent months in some of the worst slums in Africa. It is difficult to put yourself in their position and understand the choices they must make. It is absolutely mind boggling to actually spend time in these places and see the conditions that fellow human beings are forced to live in. It is easy to blame the governments for corruption and ineptitude. I agree completely. I am just pointing out that it is not an easy solution and many poachers could be making the same choice that we would make if we found ourselves in their position. To be clear, I don’t condone poaching.
     
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  11. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    Yea life is indeed rough for those at the bottom. I may not have seen the slums of Africa but I've been to India twice and the poverty on display, especially in New Delhi, is astounding in its reach.
     

  12. leslie hetrick

    leslie hetrick AH Veteran

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    even on the edges of the big cities the slums abound, seeing it first hand in the cities and in the bush will make you tear up looking at the children. on my trips I take all clothes and boots I can pack in my hole baggage that I can,t wear and give them away. this little girl is all by her self selling brooms by a red light island, two camp girls with shirts I gave them.

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  13. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Enthusiast

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    Couldn't have put it better
     

  14. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    See this is why I believe in just doing a good deed for those less fortunate whenever you can
     

  15. Von S.

    Von S. AH Enthusiast

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    In some parts of the world do gooders have watched as one tribe would attack another tribe on a weekly basis with firearms. After pestering the local gubmint to take all guns away they found out that the death rate actually increased as it appears that they liked killing with axes and meat cleavers better and rapes actually rose.

    If you want them fed why can't they raise chickens?

    Hell! Even I can raise a chicken.
     

  16. leslie hetrick

    leslie hetrick AH Veteran

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    how about eating these, I must have seem millions of them in the bush.

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  17. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Enthusiast

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    How do they eat? My old man has sheet loads on the farm, reckons they keep the snakes at bay.
     

  18. Von S.

    Von S. AH Enthusiast

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    Les,

    Nothing like good PA Republican stock.
     

  19. leslie hetrick

    leslie hetrick AH Veteran

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    if you mean how do they taste, very good. on the farm in the early 50, in the usa my mother cooked them and they were good(dark meat). the ones I saw in Africa were wild and no one fed them, they foraged for them selfs. I shot some for the trackers with a old .22 rifle while there.
     
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  20. tomahawker

    tomahawker AH Member

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    All these do gooder, disease eradication, feed Africa programs in the long run only hurt. Africa has to many people!! To few opportunities!! In the old days it all took care of itself. The strong survived. Now we try and save people whose main problem is...too many people. No, I don’t want to walk by a hungry child and withhold bread, not give medicine to a feverish mother. That’s a difficult thing. But these large scale, albeit corrupt schemes to help Africa really only exacerbate the problem. And who can blame the poacher? Hunting for a living? Sounds good to me. I don’t have any answers other than organized paying hunter dollars works many ways. Providing employment, curtailing poaching, feeding hungry bellies.
     
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