In this study, we tested a novel approach for indirectly detecting participation of the local population in illegal harvesting of Protected Areas (PAs) natural resources and its spatial distribution. The research was conducted in the Niassa National Reserve (NNR), the third-largest PA in Africa, and included a face-to-face survey to 339 households. The householders were asked about the importance of several threats to biodiversity conservation, including any illegal harvesting in which they may be involved. Non-recognition of these illegal activities as relevant threats to biodiversity is interpreted as likely indication household involvement in these activities. We also gathered evidence to support our inferences of participation in illegal resource harvesting, based on the respondents' perceptions of costs and benefits of living within the Protected Area (PA) and their opinions about conservation measures under implementation. The results showed that households that are more likely involved in illegal activities are poor, less educated, and mostly located near to the PA borders, where they bear higher costs while receiving fewer benefits than others of living in the interior of the NNR. Village respondents were more likely to admit participating in activities that they need to conduct to cope with their daily needs, activities not generally considered as a serious infraction by park authorities.
- Conservation-threatening practices
- Illegal harvesting
- Indirect admission
- Perceived costs and benefits
- Protected areas