The effectiveness and social implications of economic incentives for conservation: a case study in Ruaha, Tanzania

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sociology & Social Policy


Many charismatic large carnivores have undergone severe declines in range and population. Whilst these species - such as the African lion (Panthera leo) - are regularly valued highly at a global level, they frequently impose significant local costs to communities. These are often borne by pastoralists in poor rural areas, who are among those least able to tolerate such costs. Whilst human-carnivore relations represent a complex issue with multiple social, economic and cultural factors - including human-human conflict - economic losses through livestock predation are often a key determinant. With the remaining lion populations in Africa predominantly inhabiting human-dominated matrices, retaliatory and non-retaliatory killings are pervasive throughout the lion range and are considered their primary threat in East Africa. Some conservation approaches have attempted mitigate this by providing 'payments to encourage co-existence' (PEC). These aim to offset the diverse costs imposed by large carnivores and divide broadly between those that provide compensation for livestock lost to predation, and those that aim to foster coexistence by linking the presence of large carnivores to economic incentives such as subsidised veterinary medicines and healthcare. In East Africa, communities coexisting with large carnivores are often traditional pastoralists, materially and socially dependent upon their livestock and particularly vulnerable to 'cultural poverty-traps'. With the obligation to alleviate such poverty described by some conservationists as a 'moral imperative', the potential of PEC approaches to benefit both poor rural communities and threatened carnivores has been acknowledged. The objectives of this research are to examine the role and efficacy of a multi-incentive PEC scheme in changing perceptions of - and behaviour towards - large carnivores in addition to delivering social good.
This project spans disciplines and draws from multiple theoretical frameworks; grounded in ecological economics, it shares significant thematic and semantic similarities with the related 'payments for ecosystem services' literature. Furthermore, this project draws heavily from wider socio-psychological theories of human-carnivore coexistence, including models for hazard acceptance and wildlife tolerance. These bodies of literature have identified several themes relevant to the objectives of this project. The first concerns the potential of economic incentives to act differentially within communities, such as resulting in women in particular to call for better conservation practices. The second key theme drawn from these frameworks concerns the social justice implications of economic incentives for conservation, particularly regarding the balance of benefits and costs within communities.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2438354 Studentship ES/P000746/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2025 Joseph Hamm