Comparison of national wildlife management strategies: What works where, and why?
Shalynn Pack Rachel Golden Ashlee Walker
Martha Surridge Jonathan Mawdsley
Worldwide, 50% of large mammals are in decline as a result of habitat loss and overexploitation, among other threats. To protect large wildlife, we must identify which management strategies best conserve their populations. Management strategies differ in their regulation of hunting, ownership of wildlife, funding mechanisms, and the biological and socio-‐political contexts in which they operate. These cross-‐country differences are so vast that few have undertaken the task of comparing wildlife management strategies on a global scale. This broad comparison speaks to the question of, “What works where, and why?” for wildlife conservation. To answer this question for policymakers and wildlife managers, we conduct a comparative analysis of three distinct “models” of wildlife management found worldwide: the North American Model, the Southern African Model, and the No-‐Hunting Model. This report conceptualizes, compares and ranks these models based upon their performance, using measurable indicators and also highlighting differences in context. We considered a model to be successful if it sustains and/or increases wildlife populations, generates high revenues compared to costs, and provides benefits to local people living near conservation areas.
Table 1: Summary of three wildlife management models North American – 1. Sport hunting (US) 2. Public Taxes (Canada)
Southern African – 1. Eco-‐tourism 2. Sport Hunting
No-‐Hunting (Kenya & India) – 1. Eco-‐tourism
To understand these models within such a large scope, we conducted an exhaustive literature review, citing over 280 articles of primarily peer-‐reviewed literature and government reports. Using this research, we compared the models across four categories: wildlife population trends, economics, social support for conservation, and protected area coverage. Next, from each category, we identified measurable indicators of model performance (e.g. for economics: %GDP contribution from wildlife-‐related tourism). Finally, in order to compare the model performance in a concise and simplified manner, we selected one indicator per category that best exemplified model performance. Our final output is a “Model Performance” table, which shows each country’s ranking per the given indicator per a color-‐coding scheme (green = high, gray = medium, yellow = low).
Fig. 2: Model Performance:
The North American Model exhibits generally high performance for ecological, economic, and social goals. Most of the wildlife included in this analysis currently have stable populations. A dedicated federal funding mechanism in the US ensures that a majority of wildlife management costs are covered by excise taxes, paid by hunters and anglers. Furthermore, the public trust doctrine provides all North Americans the opportunity to participate in nature-‐related activities. Conditions which enable the North American model to succeed include participation in hunting, public access to wildlife, and enforced hunting regulations. A threat to the model is privatization of wildlife and land, as it runs counter to the principles of the public trust doctrine. In addition, non-‐consumptive users don’t directly pay for conservation the same way that consumptive users do. This may compromise the sustainability of the model’s funding source if participation in hunting declines, particularly in the US. To strengthen the North American model, a funding mechanism that targets non-‐consumptive wildlife users should be established at the federal level. The Southern African Model has been successful economically and to some extent socially, but many wildlife populations are in decline. Tourism and trophy hunting generate reliable funding sources which are then invested into wildlife conservation efforts. National-‐level policies empower individuals and local communities with ownership and/or rights over the management of wildlife, enabling them to benefit from the existing opportunities in the tourism industry. The existing markets for wildlife use (e.g. live trade, hunting, tourism) create incentives among private landowners and communities for sustainable management schemes. In many cases, this has encouraged species reintroductions, recovering depleted wildlife populations. Despite these recoveries, a number of challenges remain. Increases in population density have led to increases in human-‐wildlife conflict, particularly between pastoralists and carnivores. Heavy poaching has decimated many wildlife populations, and many iconic species are in decline. To strengthen the model and stabilize wildlife populations, Southern African countries must find ways to further incentivize conservation, by establishing and clarifying laws regarding benefit-‐ sharing with local communities, and by making wildlife worth more alive than dead.
The No-‐Hunting Model, characterized by government ownership of wildlife and its reliance on tourism for external funding, generally exhibits low performance in this assessment. Most of Kenya
and India’s large wildlife species are in decline (see Figure 3 for the results of our wildlife analysis). Economically, the No-‐Hunting model has not proven to be self-‐sustaining; funding for wildlife conservation depends on fluctuating tourism revenues, which cover only about half of operating costs, on average. Government subsidies must cover the remaining costs. Neither Kenya nor India has national-‐level policies in place that ensure that wildlife’s benefits are shared with local communities; wildlife tourism revenues generally remain in the hands of the government and the tourism operators. To be successful, this model requires strong institutions that enforce wildlife laws, as there are few positive incentives for individuals to conserve wildlife. To provide a lucrative and sustainable funding source, governments must regulate and develop the tourism industry. Finally, in the face of further human population growth, the model must find ways to ensure benefit sharing with the people who live most closely with wildlife.
Fig. 3: Comparison among models of population trends of selected large mammal species.
‘n’ represents the number of species included in the analysis. There is no significant difference between the Hunting Models and No-‐Hunting Model in terms of the percent of large mammal species in decline (paired t-‐test, p = 0.46, t = 1.3010, df = 1, standard error of difference = 25.550 ). See Appendix III for full list of species. Source: IUCN 2012.
Conclusion: None of these wildlife management models is perfect, and each country faces a unique set of challenges to conserving its wildlife. Yet, comparing these country’s achievements in wildlife management, while acknowledging differences in contexts, offers a valuable lesson in “what works, where, and why” for wildlife management strategies. Future research could build upon this report by examining how successful components of a model could be “scaled up” or transferred to different regions. The future of wildlife hinges on our ability to conserve populations and habitat while balancing the needs of peoples and economies. We hope that this report offers useful knowledge for policy makers, who will work to address this challenge in policy and practice to ensure sustainable wildlife management.