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Community Participation in Wildlife Conservation and Protection in Oban Hills Area of Cross River State, Nigeria

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Isiugo, P.N. & Obioha, E.E. (2015) Community Participation in Wildlife Conservation and Protection in Oban Hills Area of Cross River State Nigeria, Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology, 6(2): 279-291.

This paper examines the nature and extent of Community-based Wildlife Management in Oban Hills sector, home to the Cross Rivers National Park, Nigeria. Community-based Wildlife Management (CWM) approach has been identified as an effective ethical way of integrating the goals of wildlife conservation with the needs of the rural poor in the tropics. CWM is premised on the notions that the stewardship over wildlife resides at the local rather than the state level, and that it is possible to improve rural livelihood, conserve the environment and promote economic growth at the same time. The Cross Rivers National Park (CRNP) located at Oban Hills, Nigeria, was created by the Federal Government in 1991. In depth Interviews, Key Informant Interviews and surveys were used to collect data. Findings from this research indicate that: community leaders play a key role in educating village members on the importance of wildlife and forest conservation; villages do not derive significant benefits from wildlife conservation efforts; laws prohibiting hunting and harvesting in the park and in forests in the buffer zone has negatively affected local livelihoods. In conclusion, neighbouring villages feel resentment towards the park, which in turn generated conflicts between members of the communities and rangers of the Cross River National Park. The authors argue that to improve the situation local institutions should be strengthened, and local communities should derive significant benefits from wildlife management in Oban Hills, Nigeria.

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