Keywords: analytical modelling; Associated Private Nature Reserves; consumptive use; elephants; Kruger National Park; land productivity; non-consumptive use; waterpoints; Savanna ecosystem model; South Africa.
Wildlife as part of biodiversity is a global natural resource. However, landowners have some control over the future of wildlife on their land. Wildlife could be managed by the state or private landowners. The survival of the wildlife and their habitats is determined by how these landowners decide to use the land and the renewable resources on it. Some complication come into place given that wildlife usually roam on land held over by more than one owner providing more challenge to its management. In addition, wildlife as a natural resource has multiple uses that generate revenues for the betterment of the landowners. The uses could be consumptive or non-consumptive. Each landowner has multiple objectives which might be conflicting which poses even a greater challenge to the sustainable wildlife management.
To meet their objectives wildlife managers use management tools. Some of the tools used include constructing or closing of artificial waterpoints, fire management, fencing, and population manipulation through culling/hunting or translocation of animals. However, use of these management tools can lead to unintended or opposite effects if they are not well understood. There are direct and indirect effects of the tools on biodiversity. Landowners could be tempted to excessively use some of the tools in order to achieve their objectives. In addition, most studies have concentrated on either the ecological or economic effects of the wildlife management tools. For the landowner, it is essential that he comprehends both the ecological and economic effects of the wildlife management tools for the sustainable management of wildlife, a contribution of this study.
The main objective of this study is to assess the ecological and economic implications of some wildlife management tools on the landowners’ welfare. I use simple ecological economic analytical models based on the Pontryagin’s maximum principle to perform the analyses. The Savanna ecosystem model which is a spatially explicit, process-oriented model is also used to further explore the effects of one of the wildlife management tools on landowner’s multiple objectives.
One of the tools that is analyzed in this thesis is the improvement of land productivity through increasing of vegetation quality. Given that, it is usually not easy to increase the land size in response to increased incentives, some landowners might consider increasing the land productivity. The results show that utilization of wildlife can contribute to wildlife conservation and enhancement of welfare as a result of investment by landowners into habitat quality improvement. However, the use of a wildlife management tool has direct and indirect effects as demonstrated by another framework presented in this thesis on waterpoints. Waterpoints are used by wildlife managers to supplement natural water supplies which in turn support herbivore populations, like elephants. A private oriented landowner may be interested only in maximization of profits or personal benefits either from elephant offtake and/or tourism revenue, thus might ignore the negative effects that could be brought about by elephants to biodiversity. In such case, the game reserve management as the authority entrusted with sustainable management of the game reserve should use economic instruments such as subsidies or payments for the compliant landowners and/or taxes or charges for the non-compliant landowners to encourage compliance with sustainable wildlife management practices.
The Savanna ecosystem model is used to explore the effects of waterpoints on elephant density (representing an economic objective) and biodiversity (representing an ecological objective). The model is used to analyze the differential impact of waterpoints on the Kruger National Park’s regions under 26 waterpoints manipulation scenarios. The model is also used to analyze elephant impact on vegetation biomass diversity in four regions of Kruger National Park. The results showed that constructing (or closing) extra waterpoints in one region does not necessarily translate into higher (or lower) elephant densities in that region, but the effect depends on the vegetation and other conditions of the region in comparison to neighbouring regions. In one of the regions, the model showed that there is a trade-off between elephant density and vegetation biomass diversity. In another region, elephants’ effect on vegetation biomass diversity follows the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, whilst in other regions the relationship is positive. The intermediate disturbance hypothesis postulates that there would be a higher diversity of vegetation structure at intermediate elephant densities whilst at extreme levels of both low and high disturbance the diversity would be reduced. The model thus suggests that different strategies should be adopted for different regions, e.g., an adaptive management strategy could be used for one of the regions where waterpoints are switched on and off depending on the elephant density.
Another wildlife management tool that is analyzed is the use of physical barriers like fences. Physical barriers could be utilised by landowners to separate different wildlife uses which might be conflicting. Landowners or game reserve management are often faced with the decision whether to undertake consumptive (hunting) and/or non-consumptive (tourism) use on their properties. A theoretical model is constructed to examine these cases. The results show that that the two uses can be undertaken in the same contiguous area if the consumptive use is not dominating.
In conclusion, what emerges from this work is that given that the landowner’s welfare is not only affected by his own actions but also his neighbours’ modi operandi, then the landowner should consider all levels of cooperation with his neighbours in order to fully maximize his welfare. This includes cooperation in terms of which management tool(s) he and/or his neighbour should use. The frameworks presented in this thesis could be used by landowners (both state and private) to analyze the effects of their management actions on their welfare.
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