Lesson Learned

Sylvain Dufour, project manager, Fauna and Flora International

Dufour served as the project manager for FFI’s Hunting and Bushmeat Initiative in the Nimba Mountains. This initiative, funded in part by CEPF, worked with hunters from local communities to establish a participatory wildlife management scheme at the Mount Nimba Biosphere Reserve in Guinea, in the Guinean Forest of West Africa Hotspot.

What was the most important lesson learned?

Success or failure in establishing participatory and long-term sustainable management of wildlife depends largely on the ability of the project staff to engage effectively with the local communities and the hunters themselves so that they feel trusted.

Describe how you learned this and whether / how you have adapted your approach or specific project elements as a result.

The approach used in the project was for staff to join local communities - the hunters in particular – to observe their way of life and collect baseline data with them on species hunted, where, and by whom. Together, we then analyzed the results and gave them the choice of either hunting their wildlife to extinction or managing it sustainably. This approach allowed hunters to realize for themselves the consequences of excessive and indiscriminate hunting and to take the necessary action to reverse the trend, such as creating hunter’s associations and introducing hunting quotas.

In Gbakore and Zouguepo, where there had been no conservation interventions for several decades, hunters were more open and willing to collaborate. With no pressure whatsoever, they unanimously decided to stop hunting and to remove their wire snares and traps from the forest reserve. In the village of Seringbara, on the other hand, previous anti-poaching efforts, some particularly repressive, resulted in hunters concealing their activities and [having a] general suspicion of outsiders.

In order to restore trust in Seringbara, the project organized and held several meetings emphasizing local hunting practices, traditional relationships with wildlife, and the possibility of a participatory approach to wildlife management instead of existing practices. We achieved this by asking hunters from Gbakore and Zouguepo to meet with those in Seringbara, and enabling those who were against the plan to voice their concerns through local radio. At the end, half of the hunters from Seringbara joined with those from Gbakore and Zouguepo to form an association to jointly manage natural resources.

- April 2006