Can Potamonautids be used as umbrella invertebrate species for conservation: Identifying opportunities and challenges related to community sustainable livelihoods

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Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, ISSN: 1474-7065, Vol: 101, Page: 52-58

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Mwazvita T.B. Dalu; Ryan J. Wasserman; Tatenda Dalu
Elsevier BV
Earth and Planetary Sciences
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article description
In this study, we assessed direct or indirect community livelihoods impacts on the preservation of Potamonautes spp., in the Eastern Highlands region of Zimbabwe and attempted to identify opportunities and constraints to conservation of crabs within the pre-existing livelihoods of community households. Random and snowball sampling methods were used to select households for informal open-ended interviews and participants for the focus group discussions. We found that increasing human populations, poverty, crab consumption, and illegal mining (i.e. resulting in water pollution, degradation of habitats) are threatening freshwater crabs in the Eastern Highlands. The combined and interacting influences of the above highlighted anthropogenic factors have resulted in Potamonautes crab population declines in populated areas. Potamonautes spp. crabs were, therefore, found to be largely restricted to upstream mountainous sites where human populations were less dense. Patterns of spatial overlap of rural population, higher poverty prevalence and crab abundance revealed in this study indicate priority areas of possible conflicts of interest, but also areas where benefits to both conservation and livelihoods can potentially be realised.