Assessment of Wildlife Poaching in Ugalla Game Reserve, Western Tanzania: Preferred Animal Species and Products
Keywords:poaching; hunting gear; confiscations; wildlife species; Ugalla Game Reserve
AbstractIllegal hunting of wildlife for subsistence (poaching) is a significant threat to conservation areas in Africa. As law enforcement is the main method used to deter poaching within protected areas, an understanding of the items confiscated from poachers upon arrest can provide an insight into the pressure suffered by different wildlife species, and improve law enforcement efforts accordingly. In this paper, long-term ranger-collected data was used to determine hunting gear and wildlife products seized from poachers in the Ugalla Game Reserve of western Tanzania. Overall, 27 wildlife species were established as having been killed by poachers, with common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), and impala (Aepyceros melampus) found to be the most commonly poached species. Over 70% of the species were hunted for bushmeat. Some of these species seemed to be more preferred and more abundant. Other confiscated wildlife products included animal teeth, tails, skins, skulls, and horns; suggesting that uses of wildlife in Ugalla are more diverse. Three hundred and twenty-four poachers were arrested, with more than 18 arrests recorded in 7 out of the 11 years for which there was data. The majority of the arrested poachers used muzzleloader rifles. This paper presents possible implications of these findings for wildlife conservation in Ugalla.