In tropical regions, two decades after the “Bushmeat Crisis” outcry, there is now a growing recognition of the failure of single solutions to the issue. Strict protectionist measures toward wildlife consumption through highly militarized law enforcement has proved to fail (Bennett, 2011; Wellsmith, 2011; Challender and MacMillan, 2014; Cooney et al., 2017). The development of alternative livelihoods, which was based on the hypothesis that hunting and consumption of wildmeat could be downsized if the reliance on wildlife as a source of food and income could be reduced, also evidenced several short comes (Wicander and Coad, 2015; Alves and van Vliet, 2018). More recent recommendations by the scientific community (Wilkie et al., 2016) and endorsed by the Convention on Biological Diversity now acknowledge the need for more comprehensive and context specific responses to prevent wildlife declines (CBD, 2017). While these recommendations clearly show progress in our understanding of wildlife management complexities, I argue that any approach to manage wildmeat use in tropical regions might continue to result inadequate, un-effective or un-acceptable without a mutualistic understanding of the complexity and nuance regarding the multiple connections that people maintain with wildlife and how these reflect the value orientations shared within the resource constituency. I use a humans' dimension approach to characterize human relationships with wildmeat in tropical forest areas, both in rural and urban/western contexts. Then, I analyze how the two opposed ends of the wildlife value orientations continuum are resulting in stigmas, which represent clear bottlenecks for sustainability in tropical regions. Finally, I call for a better understanding of the cultural constructions that shape beliefs, attitudes and behavior among the different beneficiaries of wildlife, taking into account local/international, rural/urban, traditional/western specificities. Indeed, considering that the mass of the funding available for wildlife conservation originates from foreign countries and is mostly executed through international institutions, claims of “cultural imperialism” may legitimately continue to arise if the complex and dynamic cultural dimensions of human-wildlife relations is not adequately analyzed and considered.
Authors: Van Vliet, N.
Subjects: wildlife, animal-based food, food security, conservation, bushmeat
Publication type: Journal Article, Non-ISI, Publication