Attitudinal Perception of Local People towards Wildlife Conservation: A Case Study of Oban Sector, Cross-River National Park, Nigeria
Information about local people’s knowledge, attitude and perceptions about conservation is important in wildlife conservation and evaluating the success of conservation projects. Moreover, understanding and acknowledging residents’ knowledge and perceptions about wildlife conservation is an important part of a process of engaging with local communities and building constructive relationships between residents and protected areas’ management.
This study is aimed at evaluating local people’s attitude and perceptions of wildlife conservation in the Oban Sector of the Cross River National Park. The study was carried out between January and February 2013 based on a survey conducted on randomly selected villagers living in the Oban Sector of Cross River National Park. Purposive sampling was used to select a sample of the local respondents and study communities. Purposive sampling was used due to the proximity of these villages to the park. A total of 100 people from five villages (Aking, Ekang, Esang, Ekuri and Ifumkpa) were interviewed, all living within a 10km distance from the park boundary.
Data were generated from five locations - Ifumkpa community (22%), Ekuri community (19%), Esang community (22%), Aking/Osomba community (18%) and Ekang community (19%). The sample comprised of 73% males and 27% females. 68.0% (n=66) claimed that their houses were close to the forest while 31% (n=32.0) claimed otherwise. Willingness to be involved in wildlife conservation programme (0.020*), concern for wildlife (0.000*) and continual availability of these resources (0.029*) are all significant at the 0.05 level. It was also revealed that perception about status of wildlife in the park (0.026*) and establishment of a wildlife conservation programme (0.013*) are significant at the 0.05 level.
Since respondents’ attitude and perceptions can produce useful information that could be incorporated into the decision-making process, protected areas’ management planning should be used as a starting point to improve park-community relationships; Therefore it is important for Conservation Organisations (both government and non-governmental) to collaborate effectively in developing conservation education, in the areas of awareness campaign programmes towards natural resources conservation.
Keywords: Perception, Communication, Decision-making, Protected Areas, Local People