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Hunting for Livelihood in Northeast Gabon: Patterns, Evolution, and Sustainability

Nathalie van Vliet, Center for International Forestry Research
Robert Nasi, Center for International Forestry Research

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Abstract

We suggest an ethno-biological approach to analyze the cultural and social drivers of hunting activities and assess sustainability in villages near Makokou, northeast Gabon, based on interviews with hunters, participatory mapping of hunting territories, and daily records of offtakes for 1 yr. Hunting in villages of northeast Gabon is practiced for both local consumption and cash income to cover basic family expenses. There appears to be no clear tendency to abandon subsistence hunting for commercial hunting as in other regions of Africa. Cultural and socioeconomic factors explain the temporal and spatial variation in hunting activities. Hunting increases in the dry season during circumcision ceremonies, when it is practiced mainly at > 10 km from villages, and decreases during the rainy season because most hunters are occupied by other economic activities. Degraded forest such as secondary regrowth supplies 20% of the animals killed and the greatest diversity of species at short distances from villages. Mature forest supplies the species with the greatest commercial value, e.g., red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus), and is the preferred source of meat for traditional ceremonies. In the last 15 yr, hunting patterns have changed rapidly, mainly because of the spread of gun hunting, which had serious implications for the nature of offtakes. Our results suggest that there is potential to allow hunting for resistant species such as blue duiker (Cephalophus monticola) and African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus). Other species such as red river hog and small diurnal monkeys require more attention. Specific management systems could be discussed in participatory hunting management plans to identify possible solutions to maintain the population levels of the more critical species.

Key words

ethno-biological approach; hunting impact; hunting practices; northeast Gabon; spatial and temporal patterns; sustainability assessments
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087