Gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation: views from project supervisors in India
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- Ogra, M.V. Environ Dev Sustain (2012) 14: 407. doi:10.1007/s10668-011-9332-6
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Many international agreements, such as the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, posit that successful community-oriented (community-based) wildlife conservation depends on partnerships with stakeholders of different class, ethnicity, and gender. Gender is of particular interest because it often relates to environmental use, attitudes, and knowledge and operates across other key categories. This study uses fieldwork, interviews, and a survey of 52 project heads in India to address two research questions: (1) How are gender issues viewed by supervisors of community-based wildlife conservation projects, in relation to their work? (2) What types of resources would be most useful to project heads seeking to promote gender equity through their conservation work? The results suggest that while there is widespread support for integrating gender equity issues into community-oriented wildlife conservation, many believe that gender may be a potentially distracting and secondary issue. Several reasons for the variation in views were identified including the following: the dearth of relevant empirical research about gender issues in wildlife conservation; ambiguities about the concept of gender itself; and a lack of opportunities to critically discuss the role of gender equity issues for conservation. These factors may contribute to a disconnection between international rhetoric and on-the-ground practice as it relates to gender and community-oriented wildlife conservation. Increased opportunities for professional capacity building among project supervisors and staff members, coupled with increased collaboration between social and natural scientists, will be important for strengthening the links between international conservation policy and on-the-ground practice.