Research Articles

How do HIV and AIDS impact the use of natural resources by poor rural populations? The case of wild animal products

Sarah A. Kaschula, Charles M. Shackleton
South African Journal of Science | Vol 108, No 1/2 | a549 | DOI: | © 2012 Sarah A. Kaschula, Charles M. Shackleton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2010 | Published: 11 January 2012

About the author(s)

Sarah A. Kaschula, Rhodes University, South Africa
Charles M. Shackleton, Rhodes University, South Africa


As a result of heightened financial and food insecurity, populations adversely affected by HIV and/or AIDS may be more likely to utilise wild natural resources to supplement their diet and livelihoods. Should this effect be pronounced, HIV and AIDS may pose a serious environmental threat. We explored the hypothesis that the presence of factors in the household, such as chronic illness in and recent mortality of individuals in a high HIV-risk age group, as well as the fostering of orphans, are associated with increased utilisation of wild animal products (WAPs) at the household level. We randomly surveyed 519 households from four sites in rural South Africa, recording household socio-economic status, the utilisation of wild animal products and health and demographic factors attributed to HIV or AIDS. Binary logistic regressions were used to test if households with markers of HIV and/or AIDS affliction were more likely to have a higher incidence and frequency of WAP utilisation relative to non-afflicted households, after adjusting for socio-economic and demographic variables. We found that, although households with markers of HIV and/or AIDS were generally poorer and had higher dependency ratios, there was no evidence to support the hypothesis that WAP harvesting was associated with either poverty, or markers of HIV and/or AIDS affliction. Our findings suggest that generalisations about a possible interaction between HIV and/or AIDS and the environment may not uniformly apply to all categories of natural resources or to all user groups.


HIV/AIDS; natural resources; conservation; environment; bushmeat


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