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Predators on private land: broad-scale socioeconomic interactions influence large predator management

Hayley S Clements, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Graeme S Cumming, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, South Africa; ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia
Graham I. H. Kerley, Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08607-210245

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Abstract

The proliferation of private land conservation areas (PLCAs) is placing increasing pressure on conservation authorities to effectively regulate their ecological management. Many PLCAs depend on tourism for income, and charismatic large mammal species are considered important for attracting international visitors. Broad-scale socioeconomic factors therefore have the potential to drive fine-scale ecological management, creating a systemic scale mismatch that can reduce long-term sustainability in cases where economic and conservation objectives are not perfectly aligned. We assessed the socioeconomic drivers and outcomes of large predator management on 71 PLCAs in South Africa. Owners of PLCAs that are stocking free-roaming large predators identified revenue generation as influencing most or all of their management decisions, and rated profit generation as a more important objective than did the owners of PLCAs that did not stock large predators. Ecotourism revenue increased with increasing lion (Panthera leo) density, which created a potential economic incentive for stocking lion at high densities. Despite this potential mismatch between economic and ecological objectives, lion densities were sustainable relative to available prey. Regional-scale policy guidelines for free-roaming lion management were ecologically sound. By contrast, policy guidelines underestimated the area required to sustain cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), which occurred at unsustainable densities relative to available prey. Evidence of predator overstocking included predator diet supplementation and frequent reintroduction of game. We conclude that effective facilitation of conservation on private land requires consideration of the strong and not necessarily beneficial multiscale socioeconomic factors that influence private land management.

Key words

cheetah Acinonyx jubatus; cross-scale interaction; ecotourism; financial objectives; lion Panthera leo; minimum area requirements; predator management; social-ecological

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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