A new study from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) examines the prevalence of human consumption of lemur and fossa (Madagascar’s largest predator) in villages in and around Makira Natural Park in the north- eastern Madagascar, providing up-to-date estimates of the percentage of households. who eat meat from these protected species.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) authors describe their findings in the review Conservation science and practice. In Madagascar, the consumption of threatened and protected species, in particular lemurs, is very widespread. Consumer demand for bushmeat can drive species to extinction, largely because species with higher body mass are generally hunted the most, but also tend to have low reproductive rates and are therefore particularly at risk of disappearing because of the demand for their meat.
All species of lemurs from Madagascar and the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) are protected by law, and local taboos – called fady in Malagasy culture – tend to prohibit the consumption of lemur meat. Therefore, it is difficult to quantify the prevalence of this behavior because people who engage in illegal or socially unacceptable practices are generally reluctant to discuss it openly.
The authors estimated the prevalence of lemur and fossa meat consumption using the Unequaled Count Technique (UCT) – an indirect questioning method that estimates the proportion of a community that takes part in sensitive behavior given without asking sensitive questions directly to survey respondents, and without knowing whether or not individual respondents participated in the behavior.
The UCT found that 53 percent of households had eaten lemur meat in the past year and 24 percent had eaten fossa meat. These UCT estimates were compared to the results of the direct interrogation, which revealed the percentage of households consuming lemur and fossa meat, respectively, more than 3.3 and 12 times higher than that obtained by direct interrogation. .
“Due to their low reproduction rates and the high human population density around Makira Natural Park, these species are known to be unsustainably hunted,” said Charlotte Spira, WCS researcher, lead author of the ‘study. “Quantifying the prevalence of lemur and fossa meat consumption by repeated measurements over time will allow us to assess the impact of ongoing conservation efforts aimed at reducing their hunting and consumption while increasing production and consumption of alternative protein sources. “
Michelle Wieland, Central African Livelihoods Coordinator for WCS and study co-author: “We know that many rural Malagasy households do not have enough micronutrients in their diet, and even small amounts of wild meat. are important for children’s nutrition. why households are participating in new poultry production and fish farming programs to replace the scarce but substantial consumption of endangered species. “
Poor and protein deficient communities have been targeted under the Sustainable Wildlife Management program for domestic livestock and fish production programs to improve their access to animal protein which contains essential nutrients. The support they receive ranges from comprehensive training in raising chickens and fish – including how to build and maintain low-cost pens and ponds – to providing chickens and fish to start their businesses. farms, through regular monitoring of their production and the difficulties they encounter.
The results of the study are used to design a behavior change campaign at the appropriate scale including some of the social marketing messages that are expected to be disseminated to a large part of the approximately 13,300 people who live in the study area. . The content of the campaign, i.e. the messages and approaches used to deliver them to reach target consumers, is being defined based on the results of a more in-depth preference study. of meat consumption, drivers and behavioral patterns conducted in parallel. to this study.
The authors strongly recommend the use of UCT by researchers who wish to estimate the prevalence of susceptible behaviors in areas where conservation projects are implemented. Particular attention should be paid to training, survey design and piloting to ensure that all the assumptions underlying the application of this method are respected and that the subtleties of language and representation associated with it. species of interest are taken into account.
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