Human Dimensions II

Contributed Paper
ROOM: CC, Room 25B

8:10AM Poaching as a Sociological Phenomenon: Constructed Crossroads and Conflicts Among the People and Pachyderms of Sub-Saharan Africa
Shelby Carlson
According to the Wildlife Land Trust (2015), more than one million animals are illegally killed each year. This criminal activity, known as poaching, threatens the survival of targeted species, as well as the biodiversity of the ecosystems to which they belong, the livelihood of local communities, and even national security. Considering the unprecedented rates across the globe, the urgency to find sustainable solutions has intensified. Although efforts have been predominately led by wildlife conservationists and biologists, given the anthropocentric nature of poaching, in this paper I call for an interdisciplinary approach incorporating an environmental sociological perspective and analysis. Grounded in social conflict theory and green criminology, I explore various forms of inequality to examine the ecological, economic, and social contexts in which poaching occurs. Furthermore, I utilize symbolic interactionism to investigate how the construction of these factors may influence the participation in and perpetuation of this illegal activity. While there are countless species affected by poaching, I specifically analyze the poaching of one of the most emotive megafauna and largest living land animal, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana and Loxodonta cyclotic) (Blanc, 2008). Using a mixed methods approach comprised of multiple regression analysis and textual content analysis, I evaluate secondary data from the thirty-seven African countries in which these species inhabit. Findings reveal that factors relating to a lack of social status and power, such as unemployment, gender inequality, political instability, and agricultural constraints are significant predictors of poaching. The results of this research seek to inform national anti-poaching policy and practice, as well as international collaboration and activism to comprehensively address this complex criminal offense whose consequences transcend species, boundaries, and time.
8:30AM Wildlife Attitudes of Farmers in the Vaca Forest Reserve, Belize
Hannah Shapiro; Adam Willcox; Amanda Kaeser
It is essential to incorporate local stakeholders’ attitudes and values into management plans to ensure their longevity and success. Belize in particular represents a unique case study because of their identification of six key biodiversity areas and their commitment to sustainably manage their natural resources through unique co-management strategies. This study examined farmers’ (n = 45) attitudes towards wildlife and forest management in the Vaca Forest Reserve, Belize. Farmers had positive attitudes towards native wildlife (including large felids) and expressed mutualist (n = 22; 50%) and pluralist (n = 22; 50%) wildlife value orientations, indicating that they will be supportive of future wildlife conservation initiatives. Additionally, most farmers showed a willingness to actively participate in sustainable forest management (n = 39; 87%). The fact that farmers in this forest reserve showed positive attitudes towards wildlife and a readiness to partake in forest conservation signifies that increased efforts to conserve the Vaca Forest Reserve by the government and local NGOs will be received positively by those who would be most affected by it.
8:50AM Species Deception in Bushmeat at Point of Sale and Perceptions of Zoonoses Potential in Nwoya District, Uganda
BreeAnna M. Dell; Charles Masembe; Richard Gerhold; Marcy J. Souza; Chika Okafor; Adam S. Willcox
Primate and bat bushmeat likely has a higher zoonotic potential than bushmeat of other species. In northern Uganda, consumption of primates and bats is perceived to be infrequent; however, hunters reportedly frequently butcher bushmeat into unidentifiable pieces to sell as more culturally accepted species. To quantify the perceptions of zoonotic risk of bushmeat in northern Uganda, we conducted surveys of 301 female cooks and 181 hunters in Nwoya district between 2016 and 2017. In addition, to quantify species deception in market-sold meat, we purchased 229 bushmeat samples and performed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. The universal mammal mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was used to identify meat DNA to lowest taxonomical level possible for comparison with reported species at the market. Both cooks and hunters indicated ‘primates and bats’ as highest risk, with ‘livestock’ and ‘other wildlife’ collectively as lower risk meats. Of the surveyed hunters, 58%, 69.1%, 63.5% reported hunting baboons, monkeys, and bats, respectively. The majority of hunters reported baboon (48.6%) and monkey (55.8%) meat being sold in the market ‘every week’ and 38.7% report bat meat being sold ‘every week.’ In contrast, 79.7%, 83% and 87.7% of cooks believed that baboons, monkeys, and bats, respectively, were ‘never’ available for sale. Furthermore, 50.2% and 23.3% cooks responded that primate meat is ‘never’ and ‘sometimes’ disguised as another kind, respectively, while 95% of hunters responded that it is ‘usually’ disguised. Preliminary molecular results disclosed a 19% mismatch between species reported and molecular identification of bushmeat samples. These results suggest that there is opportunity to implement educational campaigns aimed at highlighting the species uncertainty at bushmeat markets and possibly reduce disease spillover events in Nwoya district.
9:10AM Investigating Perceptions of Wildlife and Vegetation in Urban Vacant Lots
Andrew J. Mallinak; Charles Nilon; Robert Pierce; Sebastian Moreno
Vacant lots are a prevalent issue in many urban, residential areas nationwide, causing property value declines and further neighborhood blight. These lots are often targeted by city officials to become planned greenspaces, though nearby, marginalized residents may not adequately be involved in the process. This exclusion disempowers residents and provides greenspace that while ecologically useful, does not benefit residents. St. Louis, Missouri is one of many Midwest cities dealing with a large number of vacant lots, with most of the vacancy concentrated in the predominantly low-income, African-American north side. The city has selected several lots in two north side neighborhoods to implement various management strategies for storm water control and biodiversity conservation. To understand residents’ management preferences for the lots, I administered semi-structured interviews combined with vacant lot photo-evaluation surveys to residents in both neighborhoods. I created themes from the interview transcripts and photograph scores that explain how residents perceive the wildlife and vegetation in their neighborhood vacant lots and how that perception affects their preferred lot management and use. Top ranked photograph scenes exhibited a clear line of sight and signs of care such as mowing, fencing and litter absence. Bottom ranked photographs exhibited blocked line of sight and signs of neglect such as litter, patchy vegetation, and unmown or untrimmed vegetation. Themes surrounding management perception and preference included sense of safety, maintenance effort, and community needs. While wildlife was sometimes seen as tolerable or appreciated, most wildlife was viewed negatively as a form of nuisance or danger. Vegetation was pivotal in how residents felt an area was cared for and whether a vacant lot was seen as being safe and usable, with low, uniform vegetation preferred.
9:30AM Developing an Optimal Bald Eagle Monitoring Program for Southwest Alaska National Parks
Rebecca L. Kolstrom; Larry M. Gigliotti; Tammy L. Wilson
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) populations are classified by the Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network (SWAN) of the National Park Service as a vital sign of biological integrity. Though bald eagles are plentiful in Alaska, it is still imperative to have a monitoring plan that detects significant changes in populations. Bald eagles are monitored in Kenai Fjords National Park, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, but each park uses different monitoring procedures and evaluation criteria. This makes it difficult for scientists and managers to compare data, detect changes in overall population size, and make effective management decisions. Using a formal structured decision making process, we aim to ensure that monitoring conducted by the parks is standardized among parks and meets programmatic goals and objectives. We implemented a survey technique known as the Delphi Process, and used four rounds of online questionnaires to gather information from 18 scientists and managers from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks. We elicited responses about the most important stressors to bald eagles, monitoring metrics, the cost of monitoring, and effort needed to monitor metrics. Additionally, we prompted panelists to define attributes of an “optimal” monitoring scenario. Panelists selected the following attributes as the most important: minimum cost, minimum effort, maximum ability to detect change, maximum accurate information about bald eagles, and maximum integration of information across parks. Alternative monitoring scenarios were formed and, using optimization methods, the scenario was identified that balanced important attributes of an optimal monitoring program. A standardized and optimized bald eagle monitoring program will allow Southwest Alaska National Parks to more efficiently and broadly apply the data they collect on bald eagles.


Contributed Paper
Location: Cleveland CC Date: October 11, 2018 Time: 8:10 am - 9:50 am