Demarcation of individual land parcels in sub-Saharan Africa began in the late 1880s during the period of European colonisation . In order to regulate hunting national parks and game management areas were established. Wildlife management areas were created by colonial officers in areas preferential for sport hunting where high concentrations of game could be found [2, 3]. The boundaries of these areas were largely dependent on topographical features such as ridge lines and waterways and the locations of these protected area networks remain largely intact today. The introduction of hunting legislation in the nineteenth century had a significant impact on local communities for whom hunting formed a significant cultural and subsistence activity . Tiered game legislation was enforced via permits that were designed to favour the new settlers while African methods of hunting using pitfalls, snares, traps, nets and drives were regarded as uncivilised and were largely prohibited . The legal distinction between hunting using firearms and traditional hunting methods was introduced in Kenya in 1928 and the use of snares was made illegal in Southern Rhodesia in 1938. Game regulation provided a means of territorial control for the colonial authorities and profit from wildlife products provided economic support to European expansion . The introduction of firearms allowed large numbers of animals to be hunted in shorter time periods and the settlers opened up new markets for wildlife products fuelling demand . Southern Africa witnessed a very dramatic decline in wildlife resources in the space of half a century between 1850 and 1900 .
The modern composition of protected areas is largely informed by boundaries defined during the colonial era. In sub-Saharan Africa over 80% of land outside of protected areas is under a customary tenure arrangement . Southern Africa has more land under private and state ownership than in East and West Africa and designated Protected Areas are found on 16% of the continent with the percentage in sub-Saharan Africa ranging from 4.87% in Eritrea to 37.87% in Zambia . In many countries communities can be found living informally within protected area networks. While colonialism radically altered land tenure and wildlife management arrangements, national land acts since independence have further diversified the systems by which land can be occupied and owned. The optimal arrangements for sustainable wildlife management and land governance remains heavily contested and there is a rich body of literature discussing this topic. In particular, the work of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom who demonstrated that widely held assumptions that common pool resource management causes degradation, propagated by Hardin’s thesis on the tragedy of the commons, does not hold up to scrutiny . Common pool resource management, as an alternative to private or state ownership, has been advocated as a solution for the sustainable management of wildlife since the 1990s with the hope that it would stem over-exploitation [12, 13]. Southern African has a long record of implementing community-based natural resource management projects (CBNRM) that works from a common pool resource ethic often supported by international development finance [14, 15]. Zimbabwe’s Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resource (CAMPFIRE) was one of the first programmes that implemented community-based management at a national scale, showing varying levels of success [16,17,18,19,20,21]. Community resource boards were established in Zambia devolving management to the local level  and Namibia’s community management conservancy model has been developed in over 70 sites across the country .
At the same time as support for CBNRM of wildlife resources has grown, increasing liberalisation of global land markets has caused a rise in large scale land acquisition by foreign investors [23,24,25]. A large proportion of investment comes from foreign agribusiness which has been found to correlate with areas where there is low agricultural productivity; 60% of the world’s arable land is found in Africa with the majority of countries meet less than 25% of potential yield, hence these areas are highly attractive to agricultural investors . The neo-classical model of land economics asserts that individualisation of tenure reduces land disputes, and allows transfers to individuals who can extract a higher value from the land thereby increasing production efficiency leading to economic development . Imprecise land boundaries are not problematic in areas where there is a plentiful supply of land available, however, when demand increases in a neoliberal model of land economics demarcation becomes necessary to regulate prices and allocation. Residents who live in undocumented customary land areas are thus put at higher risk of displacement as investment on the continent increases. When ownership is not statutorily defined, state grants or leases can be made to private investors with little or no consultation of the occupying residents [28, 29]. This issue has received heightened attention on the continent after displacement has occurred due to numerous large scale energy and transportation projects, e.g., the Ethiopia-to-Djibouti Rail Link, Mombasa-Kigali railway, Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia and the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline.
There are a number of global initiatives that have been developed to secure the rights of unregistered land owners through tenure formalisation programmes [28, 30, 31]. The Global Land Tool Network established in 2006 and overseen by UN Habitat includes over 75 organisations that are working toward stronger tenure security supporting Sustainable Development Goal 1.4.2 ‘directly tracking progress in strengthening tenure security’. The efficacy of land administration systems is reliant upon accurate and up-to-date maps showing land parcel boundaries; this is complicated in Africa by the fact that large tracts of the continent are very poorly mapped . Much of the information held on land ownership is inaccurate and/or out of date; this is particularly true in urban areas where large informal and undocumented sprawling settlements are growing rapidly.
Effective land administration systems are regarded as an essential prerequisite to minimise investment risk related to land disputes, therefore systematic titling is encouraged by several multilateral development agencies . Green investment has increased over the last two decades in the form of payment for ecosystem service projects and biodiversity offset initiatives . Tenure clarity is required for the success of these initiatives so that financial flows are distributed to correct beneficiaries; Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programmes (REDD+) have focused on tenure clarification as an outcome of programme implementation in many countries [35, 36].
Illegal hunting and wildlife user rights
As conversion of land tenure grows in importance on policy agendas, much of the academic research on this topic has focused on whether formalisation encourages agricultural development [30, 37]. In terms of the impact that changing land ownership mosaics has on wildlife, the academic literature has largely focused on habitat fragmentation caused by agro-investment and expanding transport networks which negatively affect endangered terrestrial mammal populations through reducing suitable range area [38,39,40]. In addition to habitat fragmentation one of the key threats facing endangered terrestrial mammals is an increase in levels of illegal hunting.
Endangered terrestrial mammals are the focus of this evidence map as this is the taxonomic class which makes up the largest share of aggregated seizures on the World Wise database, which monitors the illegal trafficking of flora and fauna . Sub-Saharan Africa is the geographic region of focus as there are increasing levels of illegal hunting of endangered terrestrial mammals for both trafficking into international markets and as a source of domestic bushmeat [42, 43]. While these two markets have very different cultural and socio-economic drivers, the impact of the kill on population dynamics is the same. The harvest of wild meat for subsistence purposes is permitted in some countries under a quota system and is commonly referred to as ‘game meat’, whereas illegally harvested wild meat is termed ‘bushmeat’. The evidence map this protocol outlines is concerned with the spatial distribution of incidences of illegal hunting and the quantitative methods used to collect data. While mortality levels of endangered terrestrial mammals are impacted by a multitude of factors including zoonotic disease, loss of prey, habitat fragmentation, casualties on transport corridors, war and pollution, etc., the resulting map is only concerned with the threat of illegal hunting.
This topic is suitable for an evidence map as there is a wide diversity of taxa that has been studied over a variety of geographical areas using disparate methodologies. It is not known from existing literature whether there is sufficient comparable data to conduct a full systematic review. By generating an understanding of the quality and quantity of evidence across various species, countries and land management areas research gluts and gaps can be identified for future review while highlighting emergent trends in the evidence base. Illicit activities are by their nature difficult to document. One commonly employed method is interviewing hunters or hunting follows which are used to quantify offtake while providing the location of capture sites. This requires strong rapport to be built so that hunters trust that data will not be used to reprimand them [44, 45]. Another common method is recording carcass locations where the cause of death is identified as hunting and monitoring the location and distribution of cartridges, snares, drives and traps. While interviews and surveys with hunters, households or bushmeat market sellers provide an insight into how much meat is consumed or sold these methods often do not provide accurate data on capture locations unless collected via hunter recall. The number of bushmeat studies has increased over the last two decades, increasing the quantity of data. However, comparing capture over different spatiotemporal scales remains challenging due to differing research methodologies and a lack of longitudinal studies . One long-term global dataset that exists showing the spatiotemporal distribution of illegal poaching incidences is the monitoring the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE) programme, compiled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This programme has compiled data on elephant mortality levels since 2001 collected by national wildlife authorities; carcasses found in the designated MIKE sites are recorded with the suspected cause of death. The proportion of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) is then calculated allowing for spatiotemporal comparisons. This globally co-ordinated dataset on the location of poaching incidences is unique and does not exist for any other endangered species at the same scale. While most species listed in the endangered categories by IUCN have the majority of their range in protected areas, this is not the case for all species, e.g., cheetah . The kind of wildlife user rights that exist in different land areas largely depends on how land is owned and managed which varies considerably between countries. Hunting regulations are commonly stipulated in national wildlife and land acts with wildlife considered either ‘res nullius’ (without ownership), or under the regulation and control of the state, private entity or community . In some countries subsistence hunting is allowed without a permit (e.g., Angola, Malawi and Mozambique) while in other countries acquisition of a permit allows subsistence and trophy hunting in certain areas of land. Illegal hunting occurs due to a number of drivers including local and international demand for animal derived products, e.g. food, medicine, jewellery, clothing. Another key driver of species decline is from retaliatory killing by farmers who have lost livestock from carnivore predation or whose crops have been raided by elephants. The latter driver is a result of increased occupation of land from a rising human population which reduces the space wild mammals have to roam without encroaching on community land. Several studies have found that proximity to human settlements, markets and roads correlate with areas of high offtake as these variables allow hunters to transport illegal harvests speedily to a point of sale [48,49,50]. What evidence there is to support these claims will be highlighted in the resulting map.