ESR 34:89-102 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00844

Applying a conceptual framework to rhinoceros conservation on private lands in South Africa

Elena C. Rubino1,*, Elizabeth F. Pienaar2

1School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
2Environmental Economics and Human Dimensions of Wildlife, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Although there is a large body of literature on rhinoceros (‘rhino’) conservation, a comprehensive analysis of the challenges inherent in rhino conservation is missing. In particular, the role of private landowners in rhino conservation has been insufficiently addressed, even though private landowners manage a third of the rhino population in South Africa. In this paper we apply a conceptual framework to the issue of rhino conservation on private lands in South Africa. The framework (1) visually illustrates the political and economic complexity of rhino conservation; (2) reveals how financial decision-making drives rhino conservation among private landowners; and (3) demonstrates how the costs that poaching imposes on private landowners (e.g. security costs) undermines their willingness to conserve rhinos on their land. We argue that current anti-poaching actions are insufficient to attain rhino conservation on private lands because these actions fail to address key components of the private landowners’ decision-making process. New actions that incentivize rhino management and conservation on private lands are required. To safeguard their family, clients, employees and rhinos from armed poachers, landowners require access to improved, lower cost security systems and technologies. To offset the costs of rhino protection and management (including acquiring and managing sufficient habitat to support rhinos), landowners require a renewable income stream that is directly linked to rhino conservation. We consider how legal trade in rhino horn may attain this second objective.


KEY WORDS: Poaching · CITES · Wildlife policy · Illegal trade


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Cite this article as: Rubino EC, Pienaar EF (2017) Applying a conceptual framework to rhinoceros conservation on private lands in South Africa. Endang Species Res 34:89-102. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00844

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