On the Strategic Stability of Mutual Monitoring: Implications for Cooperative Wildlife Management Programs in Africa

M. Mesterton-Gibbons, E. J. Milner-Gulland

Game-theoretic analysis is used to demonstrate that a self-monitoring, cooperative agreement among residents to conserve a wildlife resource may be cheaper by at least an order of magnitude for a government to sustain if the community incentive structure separates benefits for not harvesting and bonuses for arrests made from payments for monitoring per se. Conditions are identified for the agreement to be stable against both the temptation to avoid monitoring and the temptation to poach, with either of two technologies. In particular, the size of the community must exceed a critical value. Implications are discussed for community-based wildlife managements programs in Africa.