An exploration of factors contributing to the illegal hunting of antelope in Maloti-Drakensberg Park, KwaZulu-Natal.
Schutte, Lindie Marie.
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The illegal hunting of wildlife animals has a severe negative impact on a country’s economy, wildlife population, and the environment. The extinction of a species can have a negative economic effect on a country’s tourism industry. A country such as South Africa relies on its wildlife, among other things, to attract tourists and is at great risk of economic hardship if the prevalence of illegal hunting is high. This means that a need exists to reduce the levels of illegal hunting of wildlife animals in South Africa. However, to establish these much-needed prevention methods, the reason for the illegal hunting of specific animals in a given environment must be explored first. Therefore, the main aim of this study is to ascertain why the illegal hunting of antelope exists in Maloti-Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal. A mixed methods research approach is adopted in this study. The key purpose is to focus on the exploration of the factors that contribute to the illegal hunting of antelope in the abovementioned park. Mixed methods research is defined as “a research design (or methodology) in which the researcher collects, analyses, and mixes (integrates or connects) both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or a multiphase program of inquiry”. It is important to adopt a mixed methods research approach because this study aims to explore the factors that contribute to the illegal hunting of antelope in Maloti-Drakensberg Park as well as to explain why this form of illegal hunting exists in that park. This study uses a concurrent triangulation design in which different but complementary data are collected on the same topic. In this study, surveys in the form of face-to-face questionnaires were used to test the theory that a relationship (correlation) exists between poverty and the illegal hunting of antelope in the park. Concurrent with this data collection, qualitative interviews explored the feelings and attitudes that residents of the surrounding villages, as well as the staff members from the park, have towards the illegal hunting of antelope in Maloti-Drakensberg Park. The data for this study were collected in the following four locations in and around the park: Giant's Castle Game Reserve, Lotheni Nature Reserve, Emahlutshini, and Hlatikulu. Furthermore, the surveys were used for the quantitative aspect of this study. The findings demonstrate that poverty is the most common reason for the existence of such illegal hunting in this park and that there is a need for more employment opportunities in the area. This study ends by recommending methods of education and awareness for the staff and community members on how they can go about reducing the levels of illegal hunting.