Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Toolbox

Wildlife Management

This module is intended for practitioners, policymakers, forest managers, students and other stakeholders involved in wildlife management. It outlines the definition, the value and importance of wildlife resources and its sustainable management. This module also addresses some current issues that are coming up at the point where wildlife management intersects with food security, livelihoods and well-being, and offers a forest-specific perspective where appropriate.

This section focuses on the main areas of FAO’s work on sustainable use and management of wildlife resources. Firstly, it provides in-depth practical information about the main wildlife harvesting models worldwide. Secondly, it explores wildlife in the context of food and livelihood security, nutrition, and in safeguarding human and animal health. Thirdly, it describes the community-based and gender equality approaches and the current key aspects for achieving SWM.

Wildlife harvesting and regional approaches

The uses of wild animal harvesting can be broadly classified as: subsistence, commercial, recreation and ecological. Wildlife can be hunted or captured for food, body parts, medicines, other traditional uses, trophies, or as pets for trade or personal use. The socio-political context and the legal framework governing wildlife ownership play important roles in shaping harvesting models. Wildlife can be a public good, communally owned, government-owned or privately owned. This section provides a snapshot of selected models from different regions of the world.

North America and Europe

In North America and Europe, recreational hunting serves a population-regulation function and produces food for consumption. Hunting is a low-cost method of maintaining wildlife populations (especially large ungulates and suids) at levels within ecological and social carrying capacities, and for conserving habitats favourable to wildlife (Heffelfinger et al., 2013).

The North American hunting model sees wildlife as a public good; thus, no individual owns wildlife, even on private land (Organ et al., 2012). State governments regulate hunting seasons and quotas for game species. Any citizen may hunt for sport, subsistence, self-defence or to protect property, provided she or he holds the correct licence. In addition to licensing, prospective hunters must purchase tags within the “wildlife management unit” in which they wish to hunt; one tag permits the hunting of one “head” of the game species in question. Wildlife management costs are covered through excise taxes paid on equipment and ammunition and by purchasing hunting licences, tags and stamps. States use these funds to ensure there are viable populations of game and non-game species (Organ et al., 2012).

In Canada and the United States, members of first nations or indigenous communities have significant use rights and are permitted to hunt without a permit if hunting for food, social or ceremonial purposes and within traditional or signed treaty boundaries (e.g. rights and responsibilities in Manitoba).  Markets for live or dead wildlife products are prohibited, although exceptions exist at the state or provincial level (e.g. the sale of lawfully taken fur-bearing animals) (Organ et al., 2012).

Wildlife is also considered a public good in European countries, and hunting is regulated by law. The right to hunt is granted if applicants pass an exam and pay for an annual licence (e.g. hunting in Finland). Depending on the country, some species (e.g. red deer harvesting in Europe) are subject to annual or multi-annual quotas, which the relevant authorities regulate by allocating tags (Brainerd, 2007).

In contrast to North America, the commercial hunting and sale of wildlife products is allowed in most European countries. In addition, the actual right to hunt in a specific area is granted to the landowner (either a private person or a communal area). This right may be exercised by the owner or it could be transferred (rented) to a third party. Leasing hunting rights provides a potentially important source of income for landowners, including communal areas and, in certain circumstances, the income generated by hunting is higher than that generated by timber harvesting. Under this model, the profits from wildlife benefit rural people (either landowners or communal areas through rentals) directly, and conservation costs are covered indirectly by the entire society. 

Sub-saharan Africa

There are a variety of approaches that define the use of wildlife in Sub-Saharan Africa. The predominant model found in Southern African countries is based on the devolution of wildlife management rights and benefits to private owners and communities. The guiding assumption behind this model is that wildlife management becomes more effective when local users can manage and benefit from it.

In recent decades, Namibia (e.g. benefits of wildlife-base private land uses), South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe (e.g. private wildlife conservation) have decentralized state decision making to local stakeholders, thus enabling them to benefit from the numerous opportunities presented by the wildlife tourism industry. Most countries require a permit or a licence for wildlife use, particularly for hunting. In some countries explicit criteria exists for giving out this kind of authorization: in Uganda, hunting in protected areas is subject to the requirement that harvest does not exceed the sustainable yield (Morgera, 2010).

The decentralization approach has been less straightforward on communal lands because communal property organizations (in which defined groups collectively share common resources within a defined jurisdiction) need to be established.

In Central African countries, hunting is governed by sections of forest laws that were created under colonial rule. This legislation was originally designed for sport hunting in Europe (e.g. closed hunting season between March and September). Although the legal texts in all these countries acknowledge the user rights of local people, allow traditional hunting and fishing for ‘subsistence’ purposes, they are ill-suited for regulating subsistence harvests (Nasi et al., 2008). 

Since customary rights are only granted for subsistence purposes, the law either forbids trade, as in the Republic of the Congo (COG), or restricts it within the local community, as in Gabon (e.g. hunting for livelihood in Northeast Gabon). In addition, land tenure systems concerning access to hunting resources are not sufficiently precise and often do not recognize customary land rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities or allocate land rights at the level of a community, without definition of the members of that community.

Central and South America

Wildlife national harvesting models in Central and South America are quite heterogeneous. Overall, there have been two different approaches to wildlife use:

1.     Some countries have adopted protection policies, prohibiting almost all use of wildlife, enacting total bans on hunting in their territory, either explicitly or by refusing to grant hunting licences. This policy is based on the premise that a total ban will protect wildlife populations and allow them to increase, and also that research will show how best to use these populations (Ojasti, 1996).

2.     Other countries are combining the protection of endangered species with controlled use (e.g. Argentina, Mexico, Peru).

In many Latin American countries, hunting laws, policies, wildlife management and administration models tend to mirror the successful models from industrialized countries. Sport hunting is the dominant model, a wildlife utilization strategy involving compulsory hunting licences, regionalized hunting seasons, bag limits per species and other measures designed to rationalize utilization and promote user awareness. Support for hunting clubs and associations, the establishment of reserves and various forms of cooperation between the administrative bodies and the resource users often go along with this model. In some countries the earnings from licence fees are earmarked exclusively for wildlife management and research. 

Subsistence hunting encompasses various forms of wildlife utilization for the purpose of procuring meat to feed the family, and is practiced by Indigenous People and so-called ‘’campesinos’’ hunters, who are the main wildlife users in Latin America. Campesinos, generally have better access to alternate forms of protein, a different cultural and economic context and are usually quite unaware of the legal and administrative wildlife regulations. They typically hunt a great variety of game year-round, though they prefer big animals, and those that can be caught by hand or with simple tools. Subsistence hunting can also become commercial hunting when a large portion of the product is sold to third parties.

Asia and Oceania

Across Asia, national governments typically retain ultimate control over land and natural resources including wildlife, although Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste recognize the pre-eminence of customary rights. For example, in China, wildlife is the property of the state; in Bangladesh, the legislation does not include clear and specific statements on wildlife tenure but clarifies that any wild animal, trophy or meat shall be presumed the property of the government until the contrary is proven; and in the Philippines, wildlife is state-owned, but congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens (Morgera, 2010).

Most countries in the region regulate hunting through a system of permits, with different legal tools in place to regulate hunting. In Japan, an exam must be passed before receiving a hunting licence. In the Philippines, all wildlife utilization activities require that authorization be issued after a proper evaluation demonstrates that the activity is not detrimental to the survival of the species. The one exception is India, which has banned commercial and recreational hunting altogether. When it comes to traditional use by local communities, general legal clauses may facilitate or promote greater involvement among local communities in wildlife use (Morgera, 2010).

For further information on wildlife laws and case studies, see Principles for Developing Sustainable Wildlife Management Laws (CIC and FAO, 2009), Wildlife law and the empowerment of the poor (Morgera, 2010), and Sustainable management of wildlife and food security through sound legal frameworks, institutions and practices (FAO 2019).

Sustainable use of wild meat

Sustainable use of wild meat

Bush meat is defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as the meat of wild animals harvested in tropical and sub-tropical countries for food and for non-food purposes, including medicinal use. Given that wildlife hunting for food and livelihoods is present across other regions too, the term wild meat is now being used. The same terminology will be applied here, with the intention of being more geographically inclusive (Coad et al., 2018).

For many, wild meat may be the main type of animal protein available, an important component of food diversity, and/or a food type closely tied to a particular cultural identity. For example, estimated wild meat consumption in the Congo Basin alone is over 4 million tonnes per year, in a region where 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas and subsists on natural resources (Nasi and van Vliet, 2011). In the United States and Canada, an estimated 15.5 million hunters participate in wild meat harvests, and an unknown number of First Nations hunters harvest wildlife to meet their food needs as part of longstanding cultural practices and traditions (Heffelfinger et al., 2013).

Wild meat is a natural and highly nutritious food, although, as with domestic stock, its use may carry health risks related to zoonotic diseases transmitted to humans through the handling or consumption of animals when such consumption is not controlled. For further details, see CIFOR’s video of the role of bushmeat in the spread of ebola.

While wild meat hunting has been practiced by humans for millennia, increasing demand as human populations grow, as new technological advances in hunting techniques re developed, and as wild meat becomes more commercial are affecting the sustainability of harvests. Unsustainable hunting is leading to the decline or extirpation of vulnerable species, which may in turn affect ecosystems as a whole, e.g. decline in dispersers, depletion of top predators.

There are several elements involved in improving the sustainability of the wild meat sector (Coad et al., 2018).

Enabling environments must be created by:

  • adapting hunting legislation, ideally using an evidence-based approach that would consider data and projects on local food and livelihoods, as well as the status of wildlife. Further information on hunting and wildlife related laws can found in FAOLEX and WILDLEX;
  • designing regional and national monitoring frameworks for wild meat to inform policy and legal interventions (e.g. Development of a Central African Bushmeat Monitoring System, SYVBAC);
  • setting up and applying standardized, robust data collection, and conducting regular analysis, to be considered in national resource assessments and policy planning documents;
  • developing guidelines that distinguish species that are resilient to hunting and those that are not, in order to direct offtakes to those species that can be hunted sustainably, and distinguish these categories in the legislation;
  • enhancing appropriate forms of land tenure, including ownership, to give more incentive to communities to sustainably manage their resources and exclude external hunters; andstrengthening capacity to enforce wildlife hunting and trade legislation.

Improving the sustainability of the supply of wild meat by:

  • implementing community-based wildlife management;
  • diversifying income sources to reduce the local demand for wild meat (e.g. Lebialem Hunters’ Beekeeping Initiative in Cameroon);
  • managing hunting practices in extractive industry concessions;
  • defining sustainable harvesting levels for wild meat species by measuring ecologically sustainable levels of offtake, or by simple indicators of population production, or by using indicators of hunting offtakes, tracking underlying changes in prey population densities;
  • using an alternative to quotas - spatial management of hunting, including no-take zones, and rotating hunting zones; and
  • undertaking further research to understand whether these methods can be successful over the long-term (e.g. testing emerging population census methods such as abundance estimation using camera trap data in the United Republic of Tanzania).

Reducing the demand for wild meat by:

  • increasing the supply and decreasing the price of wild meat substitutes (fish, domestic species, poultry, insects) by scaling up production of domesticated sources of meat and by implementing wildlife farming (e.g. analysis of game meat production in Namibia);
  • increasing the price and/or reducing the availability of wild meat by restricting supply in urban areas through law enforcement that prohibits the sale of wild species, by licensing the trade and taxing the sale of wild meat in markets (e.g. taxation in Gabon and Cameroon), and by banning trade, effective depending on countries’ monitoring and enforcement capacities; and
  • influencing non-price determinants of demand, by designing demand reduction campaigns, including on social media (e.g. this is not game in Zambia and the Pride Campaign in Thailand).

For further information, please check the CIFOR report "Towards a sustainable, participatory and inclusive meat sector".

Human–wildlife conflicts

Human–wildlife conflicts

Human wildlife conflict (HWC) is commonly described as a conflict that emerges whenever actions by humans or wildlife have an adverse effect on each other. Human population growth has been increasing the demand for natural resources in many parts of the world. This has led to wildlife habitat degradation and fragmentation with humans and livestock encroaching on natural habitats. Wildlife is increasingly competing with humans for limited natural resources resulting in an increase in HWCs. Climate change is exacerbating these conflicts through, for example, increased competition for water and habitats.

HWC is a serious global threat to sustainable development, food security and conservation. It is negatively affecting both people and wildlife and hindering the achievement of many of the SDGs and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

HWC can be broadly classified as:

  • Crop destruction is the most prevalent form of HWC across the world. Its occurrence and frequency depend upon a multitude of factors such as the availability, variability and type of food sources, the level of human activity on a farm, the type and maturation time of crops as compared to natural food sources, etc. A wide variety of vertebrates, including large mammals, primates, antelopes, bears, rodents and others, come into conflict with farming activities worldwide.
  • Negative impacts on forest resources, mainly in the form of the loss of viable trees and the destruction of plantations caused, generally, by cervids (deers) and leporids (rabbits and hares).
  • Attacks on domestic animals, are a major issue in the savannah and grasslands where pastoralism remains the main source of livelihood for many people, but they are also a significant problem for both small and large livestock ranches, resulting in significant economic loses.
  • Human deaths and injuries, though less common than crop damage, are the most severe manifestations of HWC. Large mammalian carnivores (e.g. crocodile) and large herbivores (e.g. elephants and hippopotamuses) are responsible for occasional fatal attacks on humans.
  • Transmission of infectious diseases between wildlife, livestock and humans can have a huge impact on agriculture, human health and biodiversity. Of the growing list of human pathogens, 61 percent are zoonotic. Of emerging infectious diseases, 75 percent are zoonotic, originating principally from wildlife.

Managing the conflict

HWC currently ranks among the major threats to the survival of many species, including those that are endangered, and the security and well-being of community livelihoods in many countries (Madden, 2008; West et al., 2006). In dealing with HWC, it is crucial to understand the local specifics, and to address both the relationship between wildlife and humans and the underlying conflicts over wildlife among people with different values, objectives and experiences.

Managing HWC globally takes on many forms. Management actions can be grouped into six conflict management elements: policy, prevention, mitigation, understanding the conflict, response and monitoring. An integrated management approach to HWC means that all six elements must be accounted for in any affected area, and none should be implemented in isolation (WWF 2016).

Understanding HWC implies knowing the hot spots and seasonality of a conflict, social-economic characteristics of the affected communities, community tolerance and perceived risk posed by wildlife, and severity of conflict in relation to the other community challenges.

The issue of HWC is starting to be included in national policies and strategies for wildlife, development and poverty alleviation. This ensures HWC interventions are framed within a national mandate, which will promote coordinated actions among stakeholders, legal structures, adequate funding and budgetary support, overall providing authorities, managers and local populations with a framework to deal with HWC.

The examples of HWC national policies include: 2017-2028 National Policy on HWC Management in Namibia, National Wildlife Strategies 2030 (including HWC considerations) in Kenya, Bhutan HWC national management strategy and European Union (EU) Key actions for Large Carnivore populations, where special attention was given to HWC.

Prevention is the core tenet of effective conflict management. A wide range of responses have emerged, broadly categorized as lethal and nonlethal approaches, to prevent conflict from occurring or to reduce the frequency or severity of conflict. The most popular techniques involved natural and artificial deterrents, such as chilli repellents, livestock guard dogs, bee fencing, and electrical fencing, among others. In addition, implementing land use planning, establishing watchtowers, and early warning systems are also common solutions.

Effective mitigation helps to reduce the impacts of HWC after it occurs. Currently, mitigation mechanisms, including compensation, interim relief schemes, insurance, revenue sharing incentives, conservation payments, alternative livelihood programmes, payments to encourage co-existence, and management of problem animals are variously employed globally to buffer or mitigate the impact of HWCs. See here how insurance can reduce the costs of living with wildlife.

Following is a summary of selected common approaches used to prevent and mitigate HWC and promote human–wildlife coexistence organized by broad categories of intervention is provided in the illustration below.


Habitat & separation

People, livestock and property


Physical (e.g. traps, shooting)

Chemical (e.g. pesticides, biocontrol)

Selective (e.g. problem, animal control) or unselective (e.g. general population control)

Regulated or unregulated



Capture & translocation or removal (in situ or ex situ)



Deterrents and aversion (chemical, biological, lights, noise, harassing, vehicles, scarecrows, fladry)

Diversionary feeding

Fertility control

Prey management

Disease management

Habitat Manipulation

Habitat modification

Buffer crops

Alternative food sources




Barriers: constructed (fences, walls, enclosures, nests)

Barriers: natural (other animals, landscape features)

Other forms of exclusion

Human: economic

Compensation, insurance, performance payments

Alternative income

Increase benefits of wildlife (hunting, tourism)

Other financial incentives (e. g. loans)


Human: governance

Laws and policies (e.g. endangered species protection, hunting laws)


Collaboration, participation

Stakeholder engagement

Planning and evaluation

Livestock and cultivation


Guarding (e.g people, animals, physical devices like collars)

Improved management and husbandry (location, carcass, disposal, etc.)

Modify crops, cropping cycles



Human: other

Relocation of people

Education, information, communication, training

Verification and response

Modify behavior (driving, recreation)

Social and psychological intervention

Technology (modify gear)

Personal protection

Research and specialist networks

Source: Philip J. Nyhus, 2016

A comprehensive database of documents, manuals and species-specific management strategies can be found in the Library of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Task Force on Human-Wildlife Conflict Resource Library.

In addition, a wide collection of case studies on cohabitation between people and large carnivores can be found in the EU Large Carnivore Platform.

An efficient information system to report HWC incidents, an established centralized HWC database and HWC hot spot maps are important for considering effective management. A systematic and objective gathering of HWC-related information would allow the responsible authorities to place the problems caused by HWC in a specific context and ensure that resources are being correctly directed. Frameworks for reporting and a common set of indicators should be in place to measure the performance of strategies at the institutional and community level.

Responses are the measures taken to alleviate a specific or ongoing HWC incident. There is universal consensus for the need for response teams, which must be rapid and ideally located near HWC hotspots. Response teams serve a range of functions in attempting to reduce the number of deaths of both human and wildlife, and in reducing the threats (perceived or real) that wildlife pose. The specific nature of the response teams – their source of funding, where they should be located, and what types of response teams are required – is dependent on the local context (WWF, 2016).

Empowering rural communities with a shared understanding of animal behaviour and information about past conflicts, patterns in seasonality, breeding seasons and habitat preferences, as well as practical skills and tools, may help them to deal with dangerous wild animal species and acquire new approaches for defending their crops, water and livestock. Over time, more effective engagement of the local populations may result in a change of behaviour, and contribute to reduced risks, improvements in local livelihoods and a reduction in their vulnerability (CPW, 2016). See an example of solutions to enhance coexistence between people and wildlife in Gabon's La Lopé National Park. Shared governance, where ownership of the management strategies is transferred to local communities affected by the conflict, is fundamental for a sustainable outcome.

Disease transmission

Disease transmission

Current population growth, agricultural intensification, wildlife farming and the introduction of new species are increasing the interactions among wildlife, livestock and humans. Besides competition for resources and direct predation, wildlife and livestock interactions can lead to disease transmission.

Diseases brought in via domestic livestock are a severe threat to endangered wildlife species and indigenous livestock breeds, and can affect the ecological integrity of protected areas (e.g. canine distemper brought African wild dogs near to extinction). Transmission of diseases from wildlife to livestock can also have important implications for raising livestock, local and regional food security and the livelihoods of people. Diseases transmitted from animals to humans due to the increasing interaction among humans, livestock and wildlife, known as zoonoses, is another important aspect for wildlife disease management. Zoonoses, which particularly affect humans who come into close contact with infected animals, represents more than 60 percent of all pathogens infecting humans worldwide and over 70 percent of these originate with wildlife populations (Taylor et al., 2001). Crises due to the outbreak of zoonoses can have a further effect on a household’s income and food accessibility, directly affecting the food security of local communities (e.g. the Ebola crisis in West Africa).

Addressing the issue

Successful SWM has the potential to minimize the negative effects of disease on livestock and transmission to humans while contributing to the protection of wildlife and associated biodiversity. In this sense, applying the One Health approach is essential to assessing this issue in an effective and sustainable manner. One Health is a unifying force to safeguard human and animal health, to reduce disease threats and to ensure a safe food supply through effectively and responsibly managing natural resources. The One Health approach leverages the idea that problems impacting human health, terrestrial and aquatic animals, plants and the environment can be effectively resolved through improved coordination, communication and collaborative actions across disciplines, and that these solutions must be sustainable (Figure 1).

Further information about FAO’s strategic plan on the One Health can be found here. In addition, see here a strategic direction for FAO-OIE-WHO to build together a long term basis for international collaboration aimed at coordinating global activities to address health risks at the human-animal-ecosystems interfaces.

Generally, there are four management strategies that can be applied to manage pathogens and diseases of wildlife (Wobeser, 2002), namely:

1.     Prevention, by implementing measures to exclude or prevent the introduction of a disease into unaffected individuals or unaffected populations.

2.     Control of an existing disease, by undertaking activities designed to reduce the frequency or occurrence of a disease to an acceptable level or to contain the outbreak spatially.

3.     Eradication of the pathogen, or the total elimination of an existing disease (e.g. by burning the habitat or completely eradicating a wildlife population).

4.     Take no action, since some argue that any human intervention to alter the course of an infectious disease in wild animals is an unnatural and undesirable intrusion.

Additionally, wildlife disease surveillance is crucial for understanding the local risk to animal health and potential zoonotic disease transmission and it is, therefore, considered an integral part of national wildlife health programmes. It may provide information about domestic and wild animal morbidity and mortality, identify changes in patterns of disease occurrence over time, and assist in early detection of disease outbreaks, including those linked to emerging diseases.  Further information can be found in the World Organization for Animal Health Training Manual on wildlife disease and surveillance.

Additionally, see here the FAO-OIE-WHO tripartite zoonoses guide: “Taking A Multisectoral, One Health Approach: A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries” that provides member countries with practical guidance on One Health approaches to build national mechanisms for multisectoral collaboration to address zoonotic disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface.

Community-based approach

Community-based approach

A community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) approach recognizes the participation of community members in decision making as a key aspect to assure the long-term sustainability of a resource. According to Gruber (2010), effective CBNRM is based on twelve organizational principles. Considering these principles, CBNRM for wildlife management can encourage regulated use of wildlife, provide livelihood opportunities, and minimize costs, while increasing the probability of achieving long-term sustainable initiatives.

There is a variety of approaches to consider while specifically referring to CBRNM for the management of wildlife. While some have proved successful in previous experiences, the results will vary depending on the region, country, socio-political and biophysical context in which they are implemented (Coad et al., 2018). These are some of the most widely applied:

Community-managed protected areas with governments, non-governmental organizations or industry partners is a way to reduce resource-use conflicts. Protected areas can be created to manage specific wildlife management issues such as “Sustainable Development Reserves” in Brazil,  “Community Hunting Zones” in the Central African Republic and “Community Wildlife Management Areas” in the United Republic of Tanzania.

  • Wildlife ranching is a form of husbandry, in which wild animals are maintained in certain private land areas delineated by fences to improve production efficiency with direct benefits for landowners (e.g. wildlife ranching in South Africa).  
  • Community conservancy is a communally owned and managed area where people have the legal right and responsibility to utilize and benefit from their wildlife and other natural resources (e.g. Namibia’s conservancy association).
  • Payment for ecosystem services is a mechanism in which an ecosystem service is bought by a buyer only if the service provider (e.g the local communities) can assure its continuation. For example, in the case of wild meat, local communities can be paid to maintain “food stocks” at sustainable levels (e.g. direct payment approach for ecotourism in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Zimbabwe).
  • Certification scheme is a system to certify that certain products were produced without harming wildlife habitats or populations. This scheme seeks to influence consumer choices for wildlife friendly products (e.g. an example from the Peruvian Amazon).

Gender considerations

Gender considerations

Although gender plays a key role in local livelihoods, the connection between gender, wildlife use and livelihoods has remained under explored and is often overlooked or inadequately addressed in wildlife conservation and management efforts. Yet key factors influencing SWM, particularly HWC, unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade, tenure rights, poverty, and food and livelihood security, all have significant gender dimensions, even in situations when women are not considered the direct users of wildlife and where their roles are often less visible (Espinoza, 2010).

If not effectively addressed, these differences in the access and control of wildlife resources can limit the effectiveness of management measures and exacerbate pre-existing gender inequalities.  For instance, threats to food security caused by unsustainable bushmeat hunting have proved to have more detrimental effects on women and children, who receive less and lower quality food, than on men (CPW, 2017). In the context of HWC, the fact that women usually go into the forest to collect firewood, travel long distances to fetch water due to lack of plumbing or when pipes are broken by animals, puts them at risk of wildlife attacks (Browne-Nuñez et al., 2013).

While women can bear a disproportionate burden of the hidden HWC effects, such as fear, economic hardship and/or increased workload, such gender-specific effects are not often recognized in the community or by public officials. At the same time, men may suffer higher mortality rates than women – also stressing families - given that men are usually the ones involved in wild game hunting, which is often more dangerous work (though that is because of the risk of accidents or snakebite than of actual attacks).

Gender disparities in decision-making in the context of SWM reinforce inequalities between men and women and lead to less effective management of wildlife. The low level of representation of women in management committees, due to several reasons such as deference given to male elders, women’s limited time due to household responsibilities such as caretaking and providing food, etc., means that women’s perspectives and knowledge, which are necessary for effective SWM, are lacking.

Gender mainstreaming, which refers to the promotion of gender equity within institutional policy and practice, should be considered essential for SWM. While it is possible to add-on gender considerations to ongoing projects, it is much better to analyse gender at the beginning of the phase of any management initiative. In order to ensure successful interventions, gender should be incorporated not only as part of the programming activities, but also fully integrated into the budgeted programme. For practical steps to integrate gender into conservation programming, please check the Conservation International’s Gender Mainstreaming Guideline, FAO’s Guidelines for the Assessment of Gender Mainstreaming (FAO, 2017).

For further information on key issues and solutions, please check the CPW fact sheet on gender and SWM (FAO, 2016).

Keys for achieving sustainable wildlife management

Keys for achieving sustainable wildlife management

To achieve the overarching aim of SWM of securing the interest of present and future generations while maintaining wildlife species populations and their habitats, the following aspects need to be considered:    

  • Implement incentive-driven approaches that are based on adaptive management principles, with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to use wildlife sustainably in ways that contribute to wildlife and biodiversity conservation more generally, as well as to livelihoods.
  • Plan and implement SWM strategies at the landscape level, considering both species characteristics and the ecosystems in which they live. SWM and species conservation strategies should be complementary for priority species, but in certain cases that deal with species that are highly threatened, individual species-centric approaches are warranted.
  • Review and strengthen legal frameworks, improve policy and management, and create clear regulatory guidance  at the national and subnational levels to incentivize and enable SWM to also address unsustainable wild meat harvesting and use, HWC, animal and human health and other issues.
  • Effectively implement national policies to meet global commitments in support of SWM, such as those made under CBD, CITES and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
  • Identify opportunities and barriers for providing sustainably produced food and livelihood alternatives considering the specific context, in order to develop appropriate models of SWM.
  • Ensure that SWM strategies are based on the integration of traditional, indigenous and scientific knowledge of livelihoods, species and ecosystems, information that should be readily available and disseminated to decision makers as well as to the people who benefit from or are affected by wildlife. Address gender-specific considerations throughout the SWM intervention to assure both men and women are actively involved in a way that includes the unique perspective and knowledge of women and ensure that their particular needs are addressed.