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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 205-217

Human-wildlife Conflict, Conservation Attitudes, and a Potential Role for Citizen Science in Sierra Leone, Africa

1 Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, Clemson University, CLEMSON, SC, USA
2 Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GEORGIA, USA
3 School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, LINCOLN, NE, USA

Correspondence Address:
Lincoln R Larson
Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, Clemson University, CLEMSON, SC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.191159

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Protection of tropical biodiversity is often difficult due to persistent gaps in ecological data and complex conflicts between wildlife conservation and human livelihoods. To better understand the nature and extent of these conflicts, we conducted intercept surveys (n = 522) with local villagers around the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Sierra Leone (August - December, 2010). Results revealed high levels of crop depredation, retaliatory killing, and bushmeat harvesting in villages surrounding the protected area. We also found that pro-conservation attitudes were less prevalent among younger adults and immigrants to the region. Efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflict could emphasise an enhanced awareness and appreciation of wildlife resources among these particular socio-demographic groups. In the second part of our study (May 2012), we interviewed a subset of local residents (n = 14) to explore the feasibility and utility of expanding our initial survey effort to create a more comprehensive and sustainable framework for monitoring human-wildlife interactions based on Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR) principles. Findings highlighted the challenges of implementing a PPSR-type model in this difficult management context and the potential benefits of using “citizen science” to improve data collection capacity, increase local empowerment, and influence wildlife conservation.

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