Why poaching pays: a summary of risks and benefits illegal hunters face in Western Serengeti, Tanzania

Illegal hunting poses a considerable threat to the wildlife of Serengeti National Park and its affiliated protected areas. Techniques for successful mitigation of this threat are heavily debated. Bottom-up community-based initiatives aim to curb poaching by linking local communities with wildlife conservation. Top-down anti-poaching enforcement of protected areas seeks to maintain wildlife populations through fines and prison sentences given to arrested poachers. Poverty stands as the major driver of illegal hunting as households vie for income and sustenance. Livelihoods of illegal hunters have been augmented considerably through revenue generated from bushmeat sales. Illegal hunters use bushmeat both for supplementing household protein and for economic gain. Obtaining bushmeat carries risks in the form of personal injury, fines, and/or prison sentences, if arrested. This paper compares these costs and benefits through a summary of the monetary benefits, bodily injuries, fines, and prison sentences that individuals endured over their poaching careers.

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