Assessing the drivers and impact of illegal hunting for bushmeat and trade on serval (Leptailurus serval, Schreber 1776) and oribi (Ourebia ourebi, Zimmermann 1783) in South Africa.
Manqele, Nomthandazo Samantha.
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Bushmeat contributes significantly to food security of rural people in developing countries. In regions where animal husbandry is not viable and access to domestic sources of protein is limited, bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein. In rural marginalised communities where income opportunities are inadequate and livelihoods are prone to stresses and shocks, bushmeat is the cheapest food source, a primary source of direct income and plays a vital role as a safety net. However, in most regions where bushmeat is consumed, this is undertaken illegally. The results have been the decline in many of the world‘s large sized fauna. This effect is cascading down to medium and small sized bushmeat species. This represents one of the biggest challenges to conservation worldwide. This study assesses the drivers and impact of the illegal use of wildlife resources in South Africa, with specific reference to serval (Leptailurus serval) and oribi (Ourebia ourebi). Questionnaire surveys were conducted between October 2015 and March 2016 in the Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In addition, two population viability analyses were performed. It was found that illegal hunting is prevalent in the Midlands, with hunters comprising 27% of the respondents. Most of the illegal hunting was concentrated around farmlands as compared to protected areas. Illegal hunters reported hunting primarily to obtain meat for household consumption, because of their preference for bushmeat. Little commercial use of hunted animals was reported. Most illegal hunters had encountered serval (27%) and oribi (68%) during their hunting expeditions. The population viability analyses revealed that oribi populations are highly vulnerable to illegal hunting while the serval are relatively resilient. In conclusion, illegal hunting in the region was not a result of limited access to alternative sources of protein, and bushmeat did not represent a significant source of livelihood security. Hunting for recreation was important to young males who claimed they had no alternative activities. Conservation initiatives aimed at curbing the illegal utilisation of wildlife resources should thus encompass inclusive education while promoting the sustainable utilisation of resilient species for bushmeat and traditional purposes.