THE IMPORTANCE OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

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CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

This chapter gives a description and justification of the methodology, sampling and data collection techniques adopted in this study. Thereafter, analysis of the collected information is discussed.
This chapter concludes with a discussion of ethical considerations, validity and reliability, as well as the limitations to the study.

RESEARCH DESIGN

A research design is, according to Nieuwenhuis (2012:70), a plan or strategy which moves from the underlying philosophical assumptions to specifying the selection of respondents, the data gathering techniques to be used, and the data analysis to be carried out.
According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009:5), the word ‘research’ has three characteristics: firstly, research is data that is collected systematically; secondly, research is data that is interpreted systematically; and thirdly, research has a clear purpose – namely, to find things out.
The classification of ‘research purpose’ most often used in research method literature, is the threefold one of ‘exploratory’, ‘descriptive’ and ‘explanatory’. Exploratory research, according to Saunders et al. (2009:592), is research that aims to seek new insights into phenomena in a new light. Exploratory research can be conducted through a literature search and interviews with experts on the topic. Descriptive studies, on the other hand, intend to portray an accurate profile of persons, events or situations (Robson, 2002:59), whereas explanatory studies emphasise studying a situation or a problem, in order to explain the relationships between variables (Saunders et al., 2009:140).
In the light of the aforementioned, the exploratory study is deemed appropriate for this study. The choice of this research strategy was guided by the research questions and the objectives of the research.
Research can further be differentiated according to the research strategy that is chosen. According to Saunders et al. (2009:600), a research strategy is the general plan of how the researcher will go about answering questions or meeting research objectives. Research strategies can be divided into qualitative research, quantitative research and a mixed methods approach.
Leedy and Ormrod (2010:94) point out the following differences between a quantitative and qualitative approach:
– Quantitative research involves looking at amounts or quantities of one or more variables in some way, perhaps by using commonly accepted measures of the physical world (e.g. rulers, thermometers, oscilloscopes), or carefully designed measures of psychological characteristics or behaviours (e.g. tests, questionnaires, rating scales).
– Qualitative research involves looking at characteristics or qualities, that cannot easily be reduced to numerical values. A qualitative researcher typically aims to examine the many nuances and complexities of a particular phenomenon.
As far as the purpose of a specific research approach is concerned, quantitative researchers seek explanations and predictions that will generalise to other persons and places. Qualitative researchers seek a better understanding of complex situations (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010:95).
According to De Vos, Strydom, Fouche and Delport (2011:312), the qualitative research design differs inherently from the quantitative design, in that it does not usually provide the researcher with a step-by-step plan or fixed recipe to follow. The term ‘qualitative research’ is an indication that this approach concentrates on the qualities of human behaviour – i.e. on qualitative aspects, and not quantitatively measurable aspects of human behaviour (Schurink, 2003:3).
According to Kara (2012:114), mixed method research is research that includes qualitative and quantitative elements, using both primary and secondary data. Mixed method research is described by Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004:17) as the class of research where the researcher mixes or combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, concepts or language, into a single study. According to Saunders et al. (2009:152), mixed method research uses both quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques and analysis procedures, either at the same time or one after the other, but does not combine the two techniques. This method has also been criticised. According to Gorard (2007:1), mixing methods is wrong – not because methods should be kept separate, but because they should not have been divided at the outset.
According to Marshall and Rossman (2006:54), the strengths of qualitative studies should be demonstrated for research that is exploratary or descriptive and that stresses the importance of context, setting and the participants’ frame of reference. In qualitative research, according to Nieuwenhuis (2012:56), it is maintained that knowledge should emerge out of the local context, and privilege the voice of the “insiders”, taking into account what people say, do and feel, and how they make meaning of the phenomena under investigation.
Patterns, trends and themes should therefore emerge from the research process, and the role of the researcher should be to understand real-life situations from the point of view of the insider, rather than from that of the outsider. It was for this reason that the methodology used in this study was of a qualitative nature. Rhino poaching is not a single faceted issue. It is complex, and interacts with all sectors of society – from rhino owners to local communities, rhino custodians and government.
Another reason for using the qualitative method was the need to corroborate, validate and explain the information that was collected during this study. According to Miles and Huberman (1994:10), qualitative research is useful when one needs to supplement, validate, explain or interpret the collected information.
According to Leedy and Ormrod (2010:137), qualitative research provides a means by which a researcher can judge the effectiveness of particular policies, practices or innovations. This is also one of the reasons why the researcher decided on a qualitative research approach – more specifically, to answer the first two research questions:
(i) Does the CITES ban on international trade in rhino horn provide an effective measure to stop or prevent poaching?
(ii) Can the lifting of the ban on international trade in rhino horn discourage poaching and save the rhino from extinction?
Qualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information: (a) participating in the setting; (b) observing directly; (c) interviewing in depth; and (d) analysing documents and material culture (Marshall & Rossman, 2006:97).
Qualitative research acknowledges an interactive relationship between the researcher and the participants, as well as between the participants and their own experiences, and how they have constructed a reality based on those experiences (Nieuwenhuis, 2012:55); hence, interviews and questionnaires, combined with a desk-based study, have been chosen for the purposes of this research.

DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES

Data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and a desk-based study (literature review).

Interviews

According to Fontana and Frey (2000:655), interviewing involves individual, face-to-face, group interchange, mailed or self-administered questionnaires and telephone surveys. These can be structured, semi-structured or unstructured in nature. Individual interviews represent the most widely-used data collection strategy in qualitative research (Sandelowski, 2002). Researchers typically choose individual interviews to collect detailed accounts of participants’ thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and knowledge, pertaining to a given phenomenon (Fielding, 1994).
The aim of qualitative interviews is to see the world through the eyes of the participants, and can be a valuable source of information, provided they are used correctly (Nieuwenhuis, 2012:87).
Interviews are put into three general categories: the informal, conversational interview, the general interview guided approach, and the standardised, open-ended interview (Patton, 2002:341). The open-ended interview is based on an assumption fundamental to qualitative research: the participant’s perspective on the phenomenon of interest should unfold as the participant views it (the emic perspective), not as the researcher views it (the etic perspective) (Marshall & Rossman, 2006:101). This type of interview usually requires the participant to answer a set of predetermined questions. It does allow for the probing and clarification of answers (Nieuwenhuis, 2012:87).
In this research, the exact wording and sequence of questions were determined in advance (questionnaire attached as Appendix A). All participants were asked the same basic questions in the same order. Questions were worded in a completely open-ended format. The researcher started with the more general questions, and included descriptive questions where participants had to give a general overview. Contrast questions were also included, in order to encourage participants to compare certain perceptions. Evaluative questions guided the participants towards their own personal feelings regarding rhino poaching.
At first sight, questions 8, 9 and 16 appeared to be closed and quantitative in nature – which could have resulted in a mixed methods being used. However, the purpose of questions 8 and 9 was to determine whether rhinos are regarded, from the viewpoint of the owner, as an asset or a liabilty. The purpose of Question 16 (with sub-questions) was to determine whether rhino owners are prepared to participate in the compilation of a centralised database, and the kind of information that they are prepared to provide. The overall purpose of these questions was therefore of a qualitative nature.
According to Symonds and Gorard (2010:126), the traditional categorisation of the many different “tools”, “techniques” or “methods” for collecting data seems to be largely based on whether they create closed- or open-ended data. However, the idea of “closed” data should not be confined to the quantitative paradigm. The current assignment of closed- and open-ended data gathering methods into separate paradigms is based on their most common use, and not on their potential, or in some cases their actual, uses. Quantitative researchers tend to rely more on deductive reasoning, whereas qualitative researchers make considerable use of inductive reasoning. However, it is important to note that quantitative research is not exclusively deductive, nor is qualitative research exclusively inductive (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010:96).
The use of semi-structured interviews allows the views of different stakeholders to be put into play against each other, staging an indirect dialogue that produces more nuanced conversations.
Questions ranged from ‘factual’ questions that asked people to provide information, to ‘opinion’ questions that assessed their attitudes and preferences. The focus in this study was on both ‘factual’ and ‘opinion’ questions. As the participants consist of rhino owners and non-owners (e.g. NGOs), the latter were only required to respond to those questions relevant to themselves. Individual interviews were conducted with six (6) of the 18 participants. (The selection of participants will be discussed in section 3.4).
The researcher made use of a digital tape recorder, in order to record the interviews. These were transcribed at a later stage. Permission to use a tape recorder was obtained from each participant prior to the interview. The participants were given the option to stop the tape recorder at any stage. Notes were also taken, and compared with a transcript of the tape. The interviews followed a conversational mode (with the questionnaire as basis), which presented the opportunity for a two-way interaction between interviewer and participant.
According to Marshall and Rossman (2006:102), interviewers should have superb listening skills, and be skillful at personal interaction, question framing, and gentle probing for elaboration. The researcher is a practising attorney with extensive experience in interviewing and questioning. Participants were cooperative – especially the rhino owners, and were eager to impart their knowledge. Two of the interviewees, however, objected to the use of the tape recorder.
An informal (face-to-face) interview was conducted with a representative of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), as well as with the chief warden of one of the nature reserves in Botswana. During these interviews, and due to the nature of these interviews, the researcher deviated from the questions contained in the questionnaire. The purpose of these interviews was to obtain some background, with a view to conducting the research for this study.
Questionnaires were sent by email to those participants who could not be interviewed personally. It was not expected of participants to fill in their responses on the questionnaire and thereby limit the length of their respective responses. Participants did not have to write the answers down in given spaces on the questionnaire. No limitations were put on the length of their responses, except in those cases where the question specifically made provision for a short motivation.
According to McCallon and McCray (1975:17), some of the characteristics of a good questionnaire are as follows:
– The respondent should feel that the instrument will provide meaningful solutions to a problem, and should have a direct bearing on the research problem.
– The covering letter should be brief and inviting.
– The respondent should be motivated and persuaded to complete the questionnaire.
– Depending on the research problem, the questionnaire should be as short as possible.
– Unnecessary questions should be eliminated from the questionnaire.
– The questionnaire should be neat, professional and well structured.
The researcher made sure that the questionnaire in this study complied with the abovementioned characteristics.
The questionnaires were accompanied by a covering letter explaining the purpose of the research, as well as a consent form (copy of letter and form attached as Appendix B and Appendix C, respectively). According to Berdie and Anderson (1974:59), the covering letter should impress the respondent and motivate them. Participants were also telephoned beforehand and informed of the purpose of the research, as well as the background.

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Desk-based study/literature review

According to Marshall and Rossman (2006:107), researchers supplement participant observation, interviewing and observation, with gathering and analysing documents produced in the course of everyday events, or constructed specifically for the research at hand. As such, the review of documents is an unobtrusive method, rich in portraying the values and beliefs of participants in the setting.
According to Leedy and Ormrod (2010:145), qualitative researchers often use multiple forms of data in any single study. They might use observation, interviews, objects, written documents, audovisual material, electronic documents (e.g. email messages, Internet websites), and anything else that could help them answer their research question. Furthermore, many qualitative studies are characterised by an emerging design. Data collected early in the investigation often influences the kinds of data that the researcher subsequently gathers. In this research, the researcher used the collected data in order to frame the research problem as well as the research questions.
An extensive literature review was conducted on the topic. According to Nieuwenhuis (2012:82), it is important to distinguish clearly between the literature review of a study, and using documents as part of the data-gathering strategy. The two do overlap, in the sense that they both deal with data sources in some or other written format, but including document analysis as part of the data-gathering strategy is something distinct from the literature review. Hofstee (2006:121) refers to this technique as the extended literature review, a technique used to classify and relate various schools of thought and debates.
This stage of the research design involved a qualitative approach, to access the knowledge and opinions of stakeholders involved in conservation, as well as those who are affected by the ban on international trade in rhino horn.
Most of the NGOs did not want to participate in the research, hence the researcher had to rely on a literature research pertaining to the relevant NGOs’ viewpoint on the subject.

SAMPLING

The researcher selected a sample which would be reliable and appropriate for this study. According to Leedy and Ormrod (2010:96), qualitative researchers are often described as being the research instrument, because the bulk of their data collection is dependent on their personal involvement (interviews, observations) in the setting, whereas in many quantitative studies it is statistical representivity that is sought. With qualitative studies, generalisability of results is frequently the target, and this can be achieved when the sample, in terms of content, represents the case being investigated (Flick, Von Kardoff & Steinke, 2004:167).
Sampling refers to the process used to select a portion of the population for study. According to Bailey (1994:96), purposive sampling is done when the researcher chooses only those respondents who have specific knowledge that best meets the purpose of the study. Qualitative research is generally based on non-probability and purposive sampling, rather than probability or random sampling approaches. Purposive sampling simply means that participants are selected because of some defining characteristics that make them the holders of the data needed for the study. Sampling decisions are therefore made with the explicit purpose of obtaining the richest possible source of information to answer the research questions. Purposive sample sizes should rather be determined on the basis of theoretical saturation (the point in data collection when new data no longer brings additional insights into the research question) (Nieuwenhuis, 2012:79). In qualitative research, credibility of the findings is not measured in terms of the number of participants, but in terms of the richness of the information gathered.
Typically, the sample is selected to represent some larger population of interest – the group of people or institutions that are the subject of the research (Clifford & Valentine, 2003:950). According to Green and Thorogood (2009:120), the experience of most qualitative researchers is that, in interview studies, little that is new comes out of transcripts after one has interviewed twenty or so people.
The following criteria, as mentioned by Flick et al. (2004:169), was applied in the selection process for this research:
– They had available the knowledge and experience that the researcher needed.
– They were capable of reflection.
– They were articulate.
– They had time to be interviewed (or to respond to the questionnaire).
– They were willing to take part in the investigation.
The sample in this study was not taken according to the principle of randomness, as this kind of sample would have led to results based on emotions only. In this study, stakeholders in nature conservation, rhino owners and NGOs were chosen – specifically those who had a direct interest in the conservation of rhinos.
According to Flick et al. (2004:167), the investigation should involve not only favourable cases that confirm the existing state of one’s knowledge, but also unfavourable or critical cases. It must be guaranteed that different viewpoints are represented, and that the participants show themselves to be well informed.
Prior to the selection of a sample, the literature review in Chapter 2 already revealed different viewpoints. It is not always possible to predict the viewpoint of a specific participant, as it can only be established after the interview or after analysing the questionnaire. However, the viewpoint of an organisation such as the PROA and most of the NGOs, could be established by means of a press release or policy documents. Participants were not selected on the basis of a specific viewpoint that they might have had, but on the basis that they had an interest in the conservation of rhinos.
Further, in order to comply with the requirement of presenting different viewpoints, a literature research was conducted by the researcher.
Although only eighteen (18) participants participated in this study, they represented the owners and custodians of approximately 80% of the rhinos in South Africa. With this sample, in combination with the literature review, the requirement of generalisation would be achieved.
The sample structure for this study is represented in Table 3.1 below. As rhino poaching is a very sensitive issue, the researcher cannot reveal the specific number of rhinos per rhino owner or custodian.
A number of NGOs involved in conservation were approached. Most of the NGOs did not even respond to the request to participate. However, the CEO of one of the leading NGOs in nature conservation responded as follows (the response is an indication of the extent of the questionnaire that was used for this research): “I have looked at the questionnaire but simply haven’t got the time to reply as it will take me several days to reply in full. Also, a lot of what you are asking for cannot be answered in simple terms and the issues speak to complete EWT policies and positions, some of which are under development. I am afraid that there is simply just too much information required and it would be like me writing a thesis to cover everything that you have raised. I am also not able to reply to some questions due to my role as member of the Committee of Inquiry. I wish you luck with the thesis and am sorry that we cannot help”.
For this reason, the researcher had to rely on policy (and other) documents, to determine the views of some some of the NGOs which did not participate in the study.

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LIMITATIONS

According to Marshall and Rossman (2006:42), all proposed research projects have limitations; none is perfectly designed. One of the challenges that the researcher encountered was the reluctance of NGOs involved in nature conservation, to participate. Also, many of the private rhino owners were reluctant to participate, as they were afraid that sensitive information regarding their specific situation could be revealed.
It was difficult to arrange for interviews with some of the participants, due to long distances and time constraints. The researcher travelled approximately 2,520 km in order to conduct interviews. A telephone conference was conducted with one of the participants situated in Cape Town.
Credibilty and quality of findings are often questioned in qualitative research studies. These aspects will be addressed in section 3.7.

DATA ANALYSIS

Analysis involves breaking up the data into manageable themes, patterns, trends and relationships. The aim of analysis is to understand the various constitutive elements of one’s data through an inspection of the relationships between concepts, constructs or variables, and to see whether there are any patterns or trends that can be identified or isolated, or to establish themes in the data (Mouton, 2001:108).
In qualitative research, the researcher usually works with descriptive data, collected through methods such as interviews and document analysis. The research strategy is usually of a contextual nature. According to Mouton (1996:169), this implies a focus on the individual case in its specific context of meanings and significance. Analysis in these cases means reconstructing the inherent significance structures and the self-understanding of individuals, by staying close to the subject. The overall coherence and meaning of the data is more important than the specific meanings of its parts. This leads to the use of methods of data analysis that are more holistic, synthetic and interpretative.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ABSTRACT
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
GLOSSARY 
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF APPENDICES
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND
1.2 JUSTIFICATION FOR THE STUDY
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.6 CHAPTER OUTLINE OF THESIS
1.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 LEGAL POSITION PERTAINING TO THE PROTECTION OF RHINOS
2.3 OWNERSHIP OF WILD ANIMALS
2.4 THE IMPORTANCE OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
2.5 POACHING IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.6 EFFECTIVENESS OF CERTAIN STRATEGIES TO PREVENT/STOP POACHING
2.7 SUSTAINABLE USE
2.8 COMPARATIVE EXAMPLES
2.9 THE CITES BAN ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN RHINO HORN
2.10 THE VIABILITY OF LEGALISING INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN RHINO HORN
2.11 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.3 DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES
3.4 SAMPLING
3.5 LIMITATIONS
3.6 DATA ANALYSIS
3.7 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
3.8 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3.9 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 CATEGORIES
4.3 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
5.3 METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
5.4 RESEARCH PROBLEM
5.5 CONCURRENT STRATEGIES
5.6 CITES Trade Ban
5.7 SUSTAINABLE USE
5.8 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
5.9 SUMMARY OF THE CONCLUSION
5.10 RECOMMENDATIONS
5.11 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
5.12 RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION
5.13 CHAPTER SUMMARY
LIST OF REFERENCES
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