Understanding community attitudes toward the Angolan giraffe (Giraffa giraffa angolensis) and its potential reintroduction into Iona National Park
Keywords:Giraffe, reintroduction, public attitudes, Angola, Giraffa giraffa angolensis, Iona National Park, Poaching
Wildlife introductions are often preceded by habitat suitability studies, although to date the possible impact of human communities' attitudes towards reintroductions of species have seldom been assessed in any detail. Iona National Park (NP) in Angola is inhabited by people, predominantly on the eastern fringes, and as such any reintroduction would benefit from the buy-in of these communities. Therefore, understanding community attitudes is essential for successfully reintroducing the Angolan giraffe (Giraffa giraffa angolensis) in Iona NP where the species has been locally extinct since before the 1980s due to indiscriminate poaching during the Angolan civil war. We undertook structured interviews of individuals (n = 82) from the Iona community living inside the park to: a) investigate their attitudes toward an Angolan giraffe reintroduction, b) understand people's willingness to co-exist with giraffe, and c) assess the risk of poaching. Our analyses revealed that whilst most people in the study area had never seen a live giraffe, they remained positive towards reintroducing them into the park. Only the minority Mungambwe and Mucubal ethnic groups, who are traditional agro-pastoral farmers, showed a neutral or negative attitude towards the reintroduction and were concerned about possible poaching of giraffe. The observed support by the majority of local communities for the potential reintroduction will be an advantage for conservation planners and managers moving this valuable conservation initiative forward.
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