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Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

Hunting, Livelihoods and Declining Wildlife in the Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary, North Myanmar

  • Madhu Rao
  • Saw Htun
  • Than Zaw
  • Than Myint
Article

Abstract

The Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary, North Myanmar and three contiguous protected areas, comprise some of the largest expanses of natural forest remaining in the region. Demand for wildlife products has resulted in unsustainable exploitation of commercially valuable species resulting in local extirpation of vulnerable species. Camera trap, track and sign, and questionnaire-based surveys were used to examine (a) wildlife species targeted by hunters, (b) the importance of wild meat for household consumption, and (c) the significance of hunting as a livelihood activity for resident villages. Certain commercially valuable species highly preferred by hunters were either completely absent from hunt records (tiger, musk deer and otter) or infrequently obtained during actual hunts (bear, pangolin). Species obtained by hunters were commonly occurring species such as muntjacs with low commercial value and not highly preferred by hunters. Fifty eight percent of respondents (n = 84) indicated trade, 27% listed subsistence use and 14% listed human-wildlife conflict as the main reason for hunting (n = 84). Average amount of wild meat consumed per month is not significantly higher during the hunting season compared to the planting season (paired t-test, P > 0.05). Throughout the year, the average amount of fish consumed per month was higher than livestock or wild meat (Friedman test, P < 0.0001). Hunting is driven largely by trade and wild meat, while not a critical source of food for a large number of families could potentially be an important, indirect source of access to food for hunting families. Findings and trends from this study are potentially useful in helping design effective conservation strategies to address globally prevalent problems of declining wildlife populations and dependent human communities. The study provides recommendations to reduce illegal hunting and protect vulnerable species by strengthening park management through enforcement, increasing the opportunity costs of poaching, establishing no-take zones and research to determine the economic significance of hunting for livelihoods.

Keywords

Hunting Myanmar Wildlife trade Wild meat Livelihoods Species decline 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the financial assistance provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British Embassy, Yangon and for the permissions granted and support provided by the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division, Ministry of Forestry, Government of Myanmar. We are indebted to the local people who shared their knowledge with us and local field assistants who spent many long and arduous days in challenging field conditions. We would like to especially thank U Kyaw Thinn Latt for his assistance in creating Fig. 1 and to the administrative staff of the WCS Myanmar Program for logistical assistance. The Wildlife Conservation Society, New York provided additional financial assistance for this project. We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their suggestions to improve the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronx, New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar ProgramYangonMyanmar

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