In most marginalized rural areas of developing countries, where employment opportunities and income channels are limited, illegal hunting of wildlife for subsistence and commercial purposes often prevails. Rapid human population growth and the rising demand for bushmeat, particularly in cities where bushmeat has become a popular delicacy, has increased illegal bushmeat harvesting. The extent and drivers of illegal hunting of two important habitat specialists and keystone species in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa, namely oribi (Ourebia ourebi) and serval (Leptailurus serval), are relatively poorly understood. Thus, we interviewed community members in the region (n = 271 interviews) and found that most respondents hunted illegally to acquire meat (82%), as bushmeat was perceived to taste better than domestic meat (46%). However, illegal bushmeat hunting in the region did not represent an important source of livelihood. Oribi were hunted for meat while serval were sought after for the purposes of traditional medicine and for the skin trade. The consideration of site-specific socio-economic drivers of illegal resource use is vital in ensuring effective conservation management for these two species. Our results also provide support for conservation initiatives addressing a wide range of wild animals affected by illegal hunting in this region.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2