Study on complementary benefits of tourism and hunting to communal conservancies released
A new study published this week in a peer reviewed journal, Conservation Biology, shows how few studies have quantitatively examined the trade-offs and synergies that may result from local tourism and hunting.
Where community-based wildlife conservation has been promoted as a land-use that complements traditional subsistence agriculture found that although conservancies typically started generating benefits from hunting within 3 years of formation as opposed to after 6 years for tourism.
These two activities both generate substantial revenues for local communities and private operators, but a group of researchers who evaluated financial and in-kind benefit streams from tourism and hunting on 77 communal conservancies from 1998 to 2017.
The researches found that singular focus on either hunting or tourism would reduce the value of wildlife as a competitive land-use option and have grave repercussions for the viability of community-based conservation efforts in Namibia, and possibly other parts of Africa.
Across all conservancies, total benefits from hunting and tourism increased at roughly the same rate, although conservancies typically started generating benefits from hunting within 3 years of formation as opposed to after 6 years for tourism.
Despite the importance of both tourism and hunting to conservation, and the debate surrounding their implementation, “we are the first study to use detailed quantitative data across multiple jurisdictions and over a lengthy time span to directly compare the financial performance of these two activities,” Chris Weaver, one of the researchers said.
Using data collected annually for all communal conservancies to characteristic whether benefits were derived from hunting or tourism, one of the researchers, Robin Naidoo, said that they classified these benefits into 3 broad classes and examined how benefits flowed to stakeholders within communities under the status quo and under a simulated ban on hunting.
Disaggregation of the data revealed that the main benefits from hunting were income for conservancy management and food in the form of meat for the community at large. The majority of tourism benefits were salaried jobs at lodges.
“A simulated ban on trophy hunting significantly reduced the number of conservancies that could cover their operating costs, whereas eliminating income from tourism did not have as severe an effect,” Naidoo said.
Given that the benefits generated from hunting and tourism typically begin at different times in a conservancy’s life-span,earlier vs. later, respectively and flow to different segments of local communities, these two activities together the researcher said may provide the greatest incentives for conservation on communal lands.