In celebration of World Wildlife Day on 3 March 2018, as the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Protected areas are key to efforts to conserve global biodiversity. But a new study shows that hunting and recreational activities pose significant threats to these would-be sanctuaries around the globe.
The study brings together data from nearly 2000 protected areas (PAs) across 149 countries. Sixty-one percent of the sites surveyed list hunting as a threat, while 55 percent point to recreational activities. The results reveal a geographic split, with recreational activities posing the biggest threat in ‘developed’ areas such as North America and Europe, and hunting dominating in ‘developing’ areas such as Central Africa and parts of South America and Asia.
“It really demonstrates the different uses that people have for PAs in different regions of the world,” says Lauren Coad, who works under the Bushmeat Research Initiative (BRI) at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and is one of the authors of the study.
In developed regions, she says, putting further protections in place can be relatively straightforward: restricting tourist visits to PAs, for example, might be an unpopular move, but it’s unlikely to make anyone starve. In developing regions, however, addressing the most common threat – hunting – is a decidedly more complex proposition.