Local Community Participation in Rhino Conservation - Key to Conservation Success
A robust framework to guide community engagement in sustainable wildlife conservation and illegal wildlife trade is lacking. Virtually all conservation bodies and players believe that local communities are key to the success of rhino conservation but they are not equally walking their talk. Bottom-up community-based initiatives help to curb poaching especially level one poachers. The multifaceted problem of the African rhinoceros poaching on the continent is approaching calamitous proportions, with astounding, sobering statistics revealing the sheer extent of the illegal practice today. Poverty, greediness, superstition, rampant corruption, unchecked social injustice, ruthlessness, and ignorance are fuelling the interplay of rhino horn demand and supply. In order to save the remaining rhinoceros species there is need for economic transformation which will benefit both the communities and wildlife. Communities should get direct financial benefits from rhinoceros conservation, capacitate them and always engage them in rhinoceros conservation matters. Rhino protection should be incentivized, increasing the number of local people benefiting from conservation, and decreasing hostility towards wildlife will motivate local people to fully embrace conservation efforts. These conservation efforts should first target level one poachers who are vulnerable and exposed, by developing a comprehensive profitable and lucrative community participation packages in all rhino properties. Conservationists should walk their talk and genuinely work with local communities to build support for rhino conservation through education, awareness, self-sustaining business ventures and employment.
Keywords:Conservation, Communities, Rhinoceros, Participation, Poaching, Incentivized
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