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The socio-economics of artisanal mining and bushmeat hunting around protected areas: Kahuzi–Biega National Park and Itombwe Nature Reserve, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Charlotte Spira (a1), Andrew Kirkby (a1), Deo Kujirakwinja (a1) and Andrew J. Plumptre (a1)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.
Abstract

In the Democratic Republic of Congo artisanal and small-scale mining is estimated to provide a source of livelihood for 14–16% of the population, or 8–10 million people. In the eastern part of the country it is one of the main threats to large mammal species and their habitats, including forest elephants Loxodonta cyclotis and great apes, such as the Critically Endangered Grauer's gorilla Gorilla beringei graueri and the Endangered eastern chimpanzee Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. We used semi-structured questionnaires to survey mining communities in and around Kahuzi–Biega National Park and the Itombwe Nature Reserve to understand better the socio-economics of artisanal mining in the region, as well as the impacts of mining on bushmeat hunting. Minerals exploited at the sites surveyed included cassiterite, gold, coltan and wolframite, and most mines were controlled by armed groups. On average, miners earned significantly higher revenue than non-miners. However, mining was seen as a short-term activity and most miners were in favour of leaving the sector for better opportunities. Almost all respondents stated openly that they consumed bushmeat regularly because of the lack of alternatives and believed that bushmeat hunting had caused declines and local extinctions of some large mammal populations, including great apes. Respondents stated they would reduce their consumption of bushmeat if domestic meats became more available. We recommend that future interventions should target mine sites to address bushmeat hunting, by improving access to sustainable meat sources, establishing micro-financing mechanisms to help miners leave the mining sector, and working towards de-militarizing these sites to facilitate law enforcement.

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Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail cspira@wcs.org
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Oryx
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