2008 Volume 2008 Issue 73 Pages 1-15
The early wildlife conservation policy in Africa called “Protectionism” was introduced in order to protect wild animals that played an important role in sport hunting. However in the 1980's, the heavy hand of policy enforcers towards local people was criticized, leading to this policy model shifting from “Protectionism” to “Community-based conservation”. Two changes were expected from this shift in policy, namely, an exclusion of the colonialistic practices of conservation and a shift to a community based bottom-up approach. Moreover, with the greater observance of environmental ethics and more widespread non-consumeristic use of wildlife, such as ecotourism, sport hunting has become inconspicuous. This study focuses on the Bénoué National Park in Cameroon and describes the present condition of sport hunting as an activity that is not talked of and explores the position in the conservation project, along with its relationship with local people.
The government has leased the area located around the national park to the Western capital and earmarked it as a “hunting zone”. Sport hunting in that area is the centerpiece of the tourism that provides financial support for the management of the national park. Further, the local labor force and the income generated result in a reciprocal relationship between the industry, the government, and the local people. On the other hand, local hunting has been regulated in cooperation with international conservation institutes. This has resulted in the creation of tension between the concerned parties.
One of the expected results of this case study, i. e., the bottom-up approach, was not observed. This is not the expected outcome of the model shift to community-based conservation. Moreover, it was evident that the conservation structure and the methodologies adopted, which are reminiscent of colonialism, still remain strong. I also highlight the fact that sport hunting can be considered as an economic support for the implementation of the conservation policy. However, in my opinion, sport hunting should change its character from the present colonialistic mindset of the amusement of Western wealthy class with an exclusion of local people.