Determining Visitor Preferences for Rhinoceros Conservation Management at Private, Ecotourism Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa: A Choice Modeling Experiment

Working paper 502
Deborah E Lee and Mario Du Preez
Publication date: 
February, 2015
Ecological Economics

South Africa harbours 95 percent of the world’s threatened white rhinoceros (18 000) population and 40 percent of the critically endangered black rhinoceros (1 950) population. Increased levels of rhinoceros poaching in South Africa, and the imminent threat of extinction, has emphasized the need for improved management and conservation policies. This pilot study employs a discrete choice experiment in order to value selected supply-side rhinoceros management and conservation strategies at private, ecotourism game reserves in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The valuation setting is couched in real-world management and conservation strategies presently under consideration at state-owned and privately-owned nature reserves in South Africa. Results suggest that visitors to private, ecotourism reserves support the sale of stockpiled rhinoceros horn (as indicated by positive and significant derived values) but are strongly opposed to the introduction of trophy hunting or the continuation of rhinoceros darting experiences (as indicated by negative and significant derived values). Based on the findings of this study, it appears that the choice experiment technique is a promising instrument, which can inform the design of rhinoceros management and conservation policies for privately-owned, ecotourism game reserves in South Africa, with the possibility of extending its use to state-owned nature reserves.

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