A second Gabonese study has been published in this month’s Conservation Biology. ANPN’s partners at the University of Oxford, IRET, University of Stirling and WCS have published results of a long-term study of bushmeat hunting behaviour in rural Gabon (Coad et al., 2013).
Drawing on data collected in two villages over a period of ten years, the study examined changes in hunting behavior and hunter offtake over time. At the start of the study, wildlife was already depleted and large-bodied species rare. Over the 10 year period, there was no change in hunting offtake or species composition, but the number of hunters declined, with those with the lowest hunting income being more likely to have moved away from the village. This decline was offset by changes in the methods employed by the remaining hunters, who started switching to gun-hunting and set traps at larger trapping distances, and benefitted from a higher offtake per trap. These ‘core hunters’ were more likely to be older, more successful hunters than those that had left the village to pursue other opportunities. This study has important implications in the design of so-called “alternative livelihood” programmes : while availability of alternative livelihoods may encourage some hunters to switch from hunting to other activities, the most specialised hunters, who are most invested in hunting are far less likely to switch.