Perceived entertainment and recreational value motivate illegal hunting in Southwest China

Charlotte H. Chang, Sophie J. Williams, Mingxia Zhang, Simon Asher Levin, David S. Wilcove, Rui Chang Quan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Globally, the overexploitation of wildlife presents one of the greatest challenges for biodiversity conservation and sustainable rural livelihoods. Research on the human dimensions of hunting is critical for identifying potential levers for behavioral change interventions. This is especially true in China where hunting threatens to extirpate avian species such as the green peafowl (Pavo muticus) and great hornbill (Buceros bicornis). Nevertheless, regulations restricting gun ownership and hunting have made interviews on this topic highly sensitive. Direct questions about conservation non-compliance are often affected by response bias such as refusals to answer or self-protective denials. We used the randomized response technique (RRT) to estimate the prevalence and drivers of illegal hunting targeting four focal bird taxa (barbets, bulbuls, partridges, and pheasants). Furthermore, we used statistical models that have recently been introduced to the conservation science literature to perform multivariate analyses for RRT data. We measured economic, demographic, and attitudinal covariates that could be associated with hunting. We found high awareness of laws banning hunting in Southwest China, but we also observed that 29.2% of the adult male population may have hunted birds in the past year. Contrary to previous findings highlighting subsistence and finance as major factors driving hunting, the most important predictors of hunting activity in this landscape were related to attitudes regarding the enjoyment of hunting. Extra-economic motivations, such as the entertainment value of hunting, may be underappreciated drivers of hunting behavior. Behavioral change interventions such as pride campaigns may be a promising approach to regulate bird hunting in Xishuangbanna in collaboration with local communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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