Stakeholder preferences for pangolin conservation interventions in south‐east Nigeria

Emogor, Charles A.; Zabala, Aiora; Adaje, Patience Onyeche; Clark, Douglas; Nielsen, Kristian Steensen and Carmenta, Rachel (2023). Stakeholder preferences for pangolin conservation interventions in south‐east Nigeria. People and Nature, 5(3) pp. 1010–1026.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10477

Abstract

1. The overexploitation of biological resources severely threatens many species, requiring urgent and effective conservation interventions. Such interventions sometimes require governance structures that incorporate pluralist perspectives and collaborative decision‐making, especially in complex, multi‐faceted and multi‐scale issues like the illegal trade in pangolins.
2. We used Q‐methodology to provide evidence to inform interventions for pangolin conservation in south‐east Nigeria. We sampled stakeholder groups associated with pangolin use and protection, including hunters, wild meat traders and Nigeria Customs Service employees, to elicit their opinion and knowledge on the use and perceptions of pangolins and their preferences for interventions to reduce pangolin decline.
3. We found that the local consumption of pangolin meat as food is the primary driver of poaching in the region. This contradicts popular opinions that pangolins are specifically targeted for international trade, revealing an opportunity for site‐level behaviour change interventions. The different stakeholder groups identified awareness‐raising campaigns, law enforcement, community stewardship programs and ecotourism as preferred interventions, whose effectiveness we attempted to assess using reported case studies.
4. We observed different perspectives between people associated with pangolin poaching and use (predominantly those living around pangolin habitats, including hunters and wild meat traders) and those working to protect them (such as conservation organisations and Nigeria Customs Service employees). For example, the first group supported community stewardship programs, while the latter preferred awareness‐raising and law enforcement efforts. This divergence in perspectives underpins the need for a combination of targeted interventions at the site level to engage different stakeholders while highlighting the potential challenges to collaborative decision‐making for species threatened by illegal wildlife trade.
5. Policy implications. Our results stress the importance of targeted and context‐specific conservation interventions.

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