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The Economic Value of Elephants


Abstract and Figures

ELEPHANTS PLAY a huge role within any landscape where they occur. They are habitat engineers. As charismatic species they awaken emotions among people like few others. As keystone species, they contribute significantly to the integrity of ecosystems and must be very carefully managed. From an economic perspective, they are also value generators. In this broad context, we first consider the range of relevant economic values, using the Total Economic Value approach in a generic sense, and then apply this framework to identify the specific factors that determine the economic value of elephants in South Africa. Thereafter we summarise both regional (southern African) and international studies that consider the economic value of elephants. We conclude with an assessment of the state of knowledge on elephants' contribution to the economic value of elephant-containing ecosystems and the economy as a whole. This assessment borrows heavily from studies concerning the economic value of elephants carried out in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, since similar studies in South Africa could not be located. To date, published studies in South Africa focused either on the cost of the individual elephant management options – which is a subject treated in the relevant management chapters of this book – or else investigations of the value of tourism. The specific contribution of elephants to the value of tourism was not isolated in these studies.
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Lead author: James Blignaut
Authors: Martin de Wit and Jon Barnes
ELEPHANTS PLAY a huge role within any landscape where they occur.
ey are habitat engineers. As charismatic species they awaken emotions
among people like few others. As keystone species, they contribute signicantly
to the integrity of ecosystems and must be very carefully managed. From an
economic perspective, they are also value generators. In this broad context, we
rst consider the range of relevant economic values, using the Total Economic
Value approach in a generic sense, and then apply this framework to identify the
specic factors that determine the economic value of elephants in South Africa.
ereafter we summarise both regional (southern African) and international
studies that consider the economic value of elephants. We conclude with an
assessment of the state of knowledge on elephants’ contribution to the economic
value of elephant-containing ecosystems and the economy as a whole.
is assessment borrows heavily from studies concerning the economic
value of elephants carried out in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, since
similar studies in South Africa could not be located. To date, published
studies in South Africa focused either on the cost of the individual elephant
management options – which is a subject treated in the relevant management
chapters of this book or else investigations of the value of tourism. The
specic contribution of elephants to the value of tourism was not isolated in
these studies.
Adam Smith, the ‘father of modern economics, distinguishes between two types
of economic values: exchange values and use values. He claries as follows
(quoted from reprint in Smith, 1997, 131):
e word VALUE … has two dierent meanings, and sometimes express the
utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing
447The economic value of elephants
other goods which the possession of that object conveys. e one may be
called ‘value in use’; the other, ‘value in exchange’. e things which have
the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange;
and, on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have
frequently little or no value in use.
He explains the distinction between exchange and use value by referring to
the well-known water-diamond paradox. Nothing is more useful than water,
yet it has almost no exchange value. In contrast, diamonds have relatively little
real use, but have extremely high exchange values. Exchange values are easy to
observe. ey are the market values of a product, good, or service. Use values,
however, are not observed. If care is not taken one could easily ignore these use
values when making decisions. e economic valuation of ecosystem goods and
services is an attempt to mitigate the impact of either the absence of markets
or the wrong signals markets send by estimating the value of natural capital in
terms of what these resources contribute to society. Some are opposed to the
quantication of the value of natural resources (McCauley, 2006), but most of
these antagonists are ignorant about the way economists distinguish between
the environment’s use value and exchange value. Ecological economists are
fully aware of the fact that it might not always be possible, or even necessary
or desirable, to estimate the use value of a resource – especially when dealing
with so-called critical natural capital (Ekins et al., 2003; Farley & Gaddis, 2007;
Blignaut et al., 2007). Yet, by estimating the values that are deemed appropriate,
economists acknowledge the fact that environmental values exist and that they
contribute meaningfully and signicantly to social welfare.
Figure 1 provides a breakdown of the suite of environmental values by rst
distinguishing between the primary and secondary value of the environment.
Primary values – values without an economic purpose – are also called intrinsic
values and reect the non-demand values of ecosystems. In some instances,
primary values could also be considered as the value of life itself.
Economists do not place a monetary value on these, but often take
cognisance of them in a qualitative sense. Ecosystems’ secondary values, also
called the Total Economic Value (TEV) of ecosystems, comprise direct, indirect,
option, existence, and bequest values. See box 1 for a discussion as to the
dierent components of TEV.
448 Chapter 10
Figure 1: Values for the environment (adapted from Turner et al., 1994)
In the next section we discuss this suite of values with specic reference to
e TEV of elephants cannot be calculated by summing up all the animal’s
use and non-use values. ere is conict, even ‘rivalry’, among some of the
categories. For example, the direct consumptive use of an elephant for its ivory
excludes the possibility to enjoy any non-consumptive or non-use value from
that individual animal. e direct consumptive use of the individual, however,
does not – at least theoretically – exclude any non-consumptive or non-use
value of the population as a whole. In some cases the direct consumptive use
of a resource could have a negative impact on non-use values, depending on
how people act and react to such direct use. is is due to the fact that non-use
values are driven by perceptions and heavily inuenced by specic contexts,
which can change over time and in response to events. Neither are these values
easily transferable from one setting to another.
e impact of elephants on their surroundings can also lead to a decline
in the TEV of the return on the ecosystem in general. If not managed properly,
elephants can lead to environmental degradation. Such degradation could
449The economic value of elephants
Box 1: Total Economic Value (TEV): A description
Direct use values are often exchange values since markets can exist for them.
The estimation thereof is conceptually straightforward, but not necessarily
easy. The fact that markets do (or can) exist does not imply that they are
functioning well. Market imperfections such as legislations, trade-bans,
and spatial and temporal differences between resources, can distort such
a market and hence the market outcome. Direct use values can be sub-
categorised as:
consumptive use values (e.g., elephant meat, ivory, trophy hunting)•
non-consumptive use values (e.g., game-viewing, elephant rides, etc.). •
Indirect use values correspond closely to the value of ecosystem functions
(e.g., watershed protection, carbon sequestration, nutrient recycling). In the
past these values tended to be use values but this is changing, with the
advent of the carbon and water markets, and they are increasingly becoming
exchange values. Biodiversity markets, however, are not well developed
yet and the role an individual species, such as an elephant, plays within
an ecosystem is also not isolated within this market. This is not to imply that
this cannot change in future. Much discussion is under way to develop a
biodiversity market of which both South Africa and all of southern Africa
could be beneficiaries. Indirect use values are, however, not just positive.
Individual species, such as an invasive alien plant, can have a negative
impact on the social and economic value, and the ecological functioning of
an ecosystem in general, and likewise the over-population of an endemic
species such as an elephant can be globally negative.
Option value is an expression of an individual’s preference not to make
use of a resource today because he/she prefers to retain the option to use the
resource in future and, therefore, is willing to pay for today’s conservation to
retain the option for any possible future use.
Bequest value is a measure of an individual’s willingness-to-pay to
ensure that an environmental resource is preserved for the benefit of his/her
descendants. Bequest values are non-use values for the current generation,
but a potential future use or non-use value for their descendants.
450 Chapter 10
lead to a loss in ecosystem function (indirect use value), which not only
implies a loss in ecosystem productivity and resilience, but also the need for
ecosystem restoration. The damage to field crops by elephants that escape
from conservation areas and the ensuing challenges between humans and
elephants are a direct cost to the aected human community. But this cost is
not reected in, for example, the value an international tourist derives from
viewing elephants in the protected area where the damage-causing individual
lives. is implies that space and context matter when considering economic
valuation. Additionally, partial analyses may skew perception of the TEV. For
example, should a study only focus on one aspect of the total economic value,
say its non-consumptive use value, but not consider any other value – such as
the loss of plausible consumptive use values or its nuisance value – this can lead
to partial or even wrong conclusions. It is best to consider the suite of values as a
package and, from an economic vantage point, optimise the suite of them rather
than any one individual component. is implies the need for systems thinking
and adaptive management, well informed by good data.
Lastly, two entrenched problems, inherent to all forms of economic
valuation, are the issues of time and income dierence. Studies have to make
adequate provision for both the time preference of money – which usually
depreciates over time – and the change in value of ecosystems goods and
services – which often increases over time, should they become more scarce
due to habitat loss. As for income dierences, often communities adjacent
to conservation areas are poor, while visitors to the park are auent. ese
two constituencies tend to value and evaluate a resource such as elephants
quite differently because of their different perspectives, and their different
relationships with, or uses of, elephants. One has to consider and seek to either
optimise the value of the system as a whole or to manage it sustainably and not
just that of an individual value.
Most of the economic valuation studies of elephants done in the past
focused on direct consumptive use value. Since 1989, when the African elephant
Existence value measures the willingness to pay for the preservation of
the environment that is not related to either current or optional use, thereby
being the only true ‘non-use’ value. Existence values are based on the
concept of the environment [or an individual species] being there. In some
cases, bequest values are treated as part of existence values as it is often
difficult to differentiate between the two on an empirical level.
451The economic value of elephants
Box 2: Non-consumptive use values of elephants
Direct (non-consumptive) use: Within the tourism industry, elephants are
important drawcards or attractions. The benefits of elephants within the
ecosystem from a tourism perspective include direct income to households
through employment, ownership, or equity in tourism-linked businesses, as
well as foreign exchange earnings for the government, and government
income through taxation of individual earnings, sales taxes and corporate
taxes. It is, however, costly and a management-intensive exercise to host
elephants. Elephant tourism options include either low numbers/high paying
options (no self-drive; overnight lodges) or high numbers/low budget options
(self-drive and camping or self-catering lodges). Elephant-related tourism
expenditure is therefore a good indicator of people’s willingness to pay for
Indirect use: Elephants are a keystone species in any biome where they
occur and they play an important biological role in ecosystem functioning,
ensuring the survival and continued evolution of many species. These values
are generally not measured and can go two ways. One could value the
indirect value of elephants either as an umbrella species, and therefore
incorporating a range of other values in their value as well, or, individually by
considering its role in the ecosystem. This could be positive, as an important
habitat engineer, or negative, as a megaherbivore whose actions can lead
to ecosystem degradation requiring restoration and intensive management.
This is especially the case when population densities become too high.
Non-use values: There is an ongoing global concern for the continued
existence of elephants. This concern is expressed mainly in the form
of donations focusing on the protection of the elephant. In Kenya, for
example, the elephant conservation industry is largely dependent on this
form of money transfer for its continued survival. How sustainable and
efficient it is, however, can and is being questioned (Norton-Griffith, 2007).
Wildlife policies create the enabling environment for wildlife conservation,
also for elephants, which, if designed appropriately, will be conducive to
both conservation and the development of economic opportunities through
markets. Market mechanisms can be developed to harness the non-use
values of elephants in conjunction with their direct and indirect use values.
(Based on Geach, 1997.)
452 Chapter 10
was listed in Appendix I of the CITES list of endangered species (becoming
eective in 1990), the direct consumptive use of elephants has been reduced
dramatically and is eectively zero at present. Over time, however, it is likely
to recover some of its importance thanks to the ongoing debate within CITES,
especially between China, Japan and the other Far Eastern countries, on the one
hand, and Europe and the United States on the other. e Far Eastern countries
view the CITES trade ban as unnecessary and would like to see it annulled. By
and large, the countries in southern Africa also support the removal of the trade
ban, but for completely dierent reasons. ey are concerned with the impact
of their large and increasing populations of elephants on their habitat (see
Chapter 3). Together, these countries form a lobby canvassing for the lifting of
the ban, either in full or in part. Relaxation of the ban will lead to a new series
of economic drivers inuencing elephant conservation management. Such a
change would also aect other, non-consumptive use factors, which determine
the TEV of elephants, as is listed in box 2.
Southern Africa
Several studies estimating the economic value of elephants have been
undertaken in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Nearly all of this work
focused on direct use values associated with the elephant. Policy in all three
countries is aimed at promoting generation of income and employment from
wildlife, and research has thus been focused primarily on the value of elephant
Prior to the Appendix I CITES listing of the African elephant, Child & Child
(1986) and Child & White (1988) documented the nancial values associated
with elephant culling, which was being undertaken at that time in Zimbabwe
to control the growing numbers of elephants in national parks. ey showed
that the culling programme, operated by a special unit within government, was
protable. Sales of ivory and dry, salted hides exceeded the costs of low-budget
culling of matriarchal herds in the national parks. In addition, low-quality
dried meat was provided cheaply to neighbouring communities in an attempt
to engender local support for elephant conservation by osetting the need for
poaching for bush meat. e numbers culled varied between 800 and 1 500 per
In 1989 the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks
undertook an analysis of the options for utilisation of its large and rapidly
453The economic value of elephants
growing elephant population. At that time, the only use of elephants was
non-consumptive, as part of the general wildlife viewing experience. Hunting
was banned and culling had not been introduced. e Appendix II listing for
elephants at the time would have allowed reintroduction of elephant hunting
and the introduction of a culling programme. Soon after that, initiatives
among the CITES parties were made to have elephants listed in Appendix I.
is was enacted in 1990, eectively closing all trade among CITES parties
in consumptive products for the species. Botswana, which was against the
listing, undertook a study to compare the economic values of the options for
use of its elephant resource. Barnes (1990) estimated and documented the
contribution that use of elephants for wildlife-viewing tourism, trophy-hunting
tourism, hunting by citizens, and culling, could make to Botswana’s national
economy. is was followed by analyses for 1990 and 1992 of the eects that the
international policy environment had on these values (Barnes, 1992; 1996a).
e studies involved detailed nancial and economic, budget/cost-benet
models of wildlife viewing activities in elephant areas, trophy hunting, and
elephant culling, as developed by Barnes (1998). ese models were based on
empirical evidence from users, including data from the elephant use activities
in Zimbabwe. e proportions of value attributable specically to elephants
were estimated as representing 41 per cent of wildlife viewing value, and 37
per cent of trophy hunting value. e models provided measures of the private
protability for the investor, as well as the net contribution of the activity to
the national income. e net present value of various combinations of this
income over 15 years, taking into account policy and plans for development of
utilisation in the wildlife sector, were estimated, as summarised in table 1 (see
Barnes, 1996a and 1998 for the details on the research methods employed).
As indicated in table 1, among the list of options for elephant use in Botswana
in 1989, the combination with the highest value is Scenario 6, which contained
all possible uses except hunting by citizens. To a large extent, elephant-viewing
tourism, trophy hunting, and elephant culling were complementary spatially,
allowing the highest values to be generated. e introduction of trophy hunting
and culling of elephants was assumed to have a moderate eect on the values
of elephant viewing through disturbance. In 1990, after the Appendix I listing,
trophy hunting under quota was still permitted, and the option of culling was
still a possibility, with some products marketed domestically and to non-CITES
parties. Since 1990, culling could therefore add very little to the economic
use value of Botswana’s elephants, implying that the CITES listing eectively
reduced the use value of elephants by some 47 per cent, as represented by the
decline in value from P293 million in 1989 to P155 million in 1990 (table 1).
454 Chapter 10
Scenario (option)
15 year present value @ 6%a
(Pula million: 1989)b
Viewing only with no consumptive uses 108.9 108.9
Viewing with trophy hunting only 153.2 153.2
Viewing with hunting by citizens only 130.7
Viewing with culling only 248.7 110.5
Viewing, trophy hunting, hunting by citizens and culling 282.3
Viewing, trophy hunting and culling 293.5 155.3
a Cumulative contribution to gross national income by year 15, after discounting at 6% per annum and after
partial shadow pricing
b In 1989 Pula 1.00 was equal to ZAR 1.32 and US$ 0.51; Pula ination factor from 1989 to 2007 is 3.50
Table 1: Present values of increases in Botswana’s gross national income over 15 years,
attributable to options for elephant management (1989 and 1990 analyses) (source:
Barnes, 1996a; 1998)
Expenditure category c
15 year net present value @ 6%a
(P million, 1992)b Utilisation option
Viewing only (no
consumptive use)
Viewing with trophy
hunting only
Viewing with hunting
by citizens only
Viewing with culling
Base case (costs rising from P16 to P242 per square km over
15 years) 123.5 181.5 122.6 181.2
Slow increase (costs rising from P16 to P510 per square km
over 15 years) 84.0 142.0 83.2 141.8
Medium increase (costs rising from P16 to P510 per square
km in rst 10 years) –1.5 56.5 –2.3 56.3
Fast increase (costs rising from P16 to P510 per square km
in rst 5 years) –20.0 37.8 –20.9 37.6
a Value added over 15 years to national income, net of government expenditures, after discounting at 6% and after
shadow pricing (April, 1992)
b In 1992 Pula 1.00 was equal to ZAR1.34 and US$ 0.47; Pula ination factor from 1989 to 2007 is 3.02
c Dierent patterns of increase to a stable maximum for government expenditure on elephant management over
the northern range (49 000 square kilometres)
Table 2: Effect of different scenarios for government expenditure on elephant management
on economic net present values of different options for elephant utilisation in Botswana
(1992 analysis) (source: Barnes, 1996a; 1998)
455The economic value of elephants
A second analysis carried out two years later, in 1992, showed similar results
(Barnes, 1996a). Culling was not able to generate additional national income due
to the restrictions on the ivory market. Elephant trophy hunting could, however,
increase the value added by between 36 per cent and 58 per cent, depending
on how much it disturbed elephant viewing activities. At the same time a
cost-benefit analysis was conducted (Barnes, 1996a), comparing predicted
national income streams generated from dierent possible use options with
predicted government expenditure streams for elephant conservation. Future
net income streams with management costs increasing to P242 per km2 over
15 years generated positive returns in national income for all options. When
costs were increased to P510 per km2 (i.e. US$, after taking ination
and exchange rate uctuations into account), as might occur with a surge in
poaching, the inclusion of elephant trophy hunting was an important factor
in ensuring a positive return for investment in elephant conservation. Table 2
shows the results of this analysis.
Table 3 shows the breakdown of value in terms of potential contribution
to national income for all the dierent elephant products when all uses were
included under conditions prevailing in 1989, 1990 and 1992. e salient point is
that the culling values, which would have amounted collectively to 40 per cent of
the total elephant use value in 1989, were reduced to negligible levels after that.
e analysis of Barnes (1996a; 1998) provided evidence of the negative impact
of the Appendix I listing on the economic viability of elephant conservation in
Botswana. Combating elephant poaching for ivory was the prime motivation
for the Appendix I listing, but this eliminated all culling values. It is noteworthy
that values attributable to ivory (ivory sales and ivory carving in table 3) made
up only 42 per cent of the total value of culling which was lost with the listing.
Southern African countries have been trying to re-establish ivory markets within
the CITES framework, but even if this is successful, it is unlikely that the 1989
markets for other elephant culling products, such as hides, could be revived.
Culling as a use option appears to have irreversibly lost the economic
viability it had in 1989. In addition, culling as an activity has increasingly faced
opposition from an animal rights perspective (see Chapter 9). Recent elephant
utilisation policy in Botswana has allowed for a combination of elephant viewing
and elephant trophy hunting only, with culling retained as a possible option
for management purposes only. Since loss of culling value has resulted from
attempts to conserve elephants, an argument could be made for compensation
through the capture and transfer to Botswana of international non-use values
for elephants.
456 Chapter 10
Work on the economics of consumptive tourism (i.e. recreational hunting)
in Namibia and Botswana (Novelli et al., 2006) has shown that trophy hunting
occupies a spatial niche that is complementary to and does not oppose or
displace wildlife viewing tourism. e inclusion of elephants in trophy hunting
quotas adds signicant value to trophy hunting tourism. In addition to the
elephant trophy fees, income from daily hunter fees is enhanced by the inclusion
of a high-value elephant in the hunting bag. Using data from a northern
Botswana trophy hunting enterprise model (Turpie et al., 2006), and comparing
values from trophy hunting in Botswana, where elephants are important (ULG
Northumbrian, 2001), and Namibia, where less valuable plains game species
are important (Novelli et al., 2006), it was possible to impute a proportion of
hunting income to elephants. Based on these calculations we estimate that
some 44 per cent of the income from an elephant-inclusive hunting experience
in northern Botswana is attributable to elephants.
Year of analysis
1989 1990 1992
Total present valueb (Pula million, 1989)c293.5 155.3 133.0
Use category (%)
Tourism – viewing 44.2 70.1 71.3
Tourism – trophy hunting 16.4 26.0 26.5
Culling – raw ivory 8.7 2.3
Culling – ivory carving 7.9
Culling – fresh or dried meat d0.8 1.2 0.8
Culling – meat processing e11.6 – 0.3
Culling – dry salted hides 6.6 0.6
Culling – hide tanning 3.7 0.2
Culling – live sale (calves) f0.2 0.4 0.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0
a Management option 6, which included viewing, trophy hunting and culling for each year of analysis
b Present values for June 1989 and October 1990, and net present value for April 1992; all at 1989 prices
c In 1989 Pula 1.00 was equal to ZAR1.32, and US 0.51; Pula ination factor from 1989 to 2007 is 3.50
d Carcass value after eld recovery and eld dressing
e Including (in 1989) use of meat as feed in crocodile breeding and rearing for production of skins and meat, and (in
1992) production of carcass meal
f Sale of calves between six months and one year old
Table 3: Proportional contributions of different products to the economic present values
of elephant usesa in Botswana in the 1989, 1990, and 1992 analyses (sources: Barnes,
1996a; 1998)
457The economic value of elephants
No such comparative studies for South Africa have been conducted, but the
live sale of elephants and the occasional hunting thereof on private land are
permitted and the values known. Table 4 provides an overview of the average
prices and number of trades over the past three years for various categories of
animals. e trade in the number of live animals is restricted since conservation
areas have commonly reached their carrying capacities. Trades are therefore
restricted to private game farms. Similarly, the number of animals available for
hunting is restricted by the fact that only animals from private game farms are
eligible. e price per elephant, whether as a live sale or for a hunt, is very high,
but this is attributable to the restricted nature of the market. It is therefore not
possible to derive a total market value for all elephants in South Africa from
these numbers. is is also the case in South Africa’s neighbouring countries.
e trophy values in the neighbouring countries are much lower, though. In
Zimbabwe, for example, the trophy fee, set by government, for an elephant was
US$10 000 for 2006/2007.
is gure is lower than that of 2000/2001, which was US$15 000, due to
a decline in the quality of the animals. In a recent government auction for
individual hunts in the Zambezi Valley safari areas, where a private individual
can buy an elephant hunt as part of an associated bag of species, elephant
hunts were sold for between US$25 000–30 000 per animal. In Botswana (2007),
elephant trophy fees are US$18 000 and in Tanzania an elephant hunt (including
all fees) is estimated to be US$23 000. In Mozambique the trophy fee for an
elephant is only US$5 000, but this low value could be a reection of the lack of
a CITES trophy quota for that country (Cumming, pers. comm.).
e parties at the 12th Conference of Parties (CoP) to CITES in 2002 agreed
to a one-o sale of 30 tons of ivory originating from the Kruger National Park.
e prospective buyers had to register with the CITES Secretariat, fullling
various requirements as laid down by the Conference. Only Japan and China
indicated an interest in buying the ivory. To date (November 2007) only Japan
has been veried as an acceptable trading partner. China will most probably be
veried as a trading partner during the Standing Committee meeting scheduled
for July 2008. CITES approved of the trade taking place at the CITES Standing
Committee meeting in the Netherlands in June 2007. A further one-o sale has
been approved by the 13th CoP of CITES (June 2007), which includes legally
obtained ivory stock from South Africa, registered with the CITES Secretariat
by 31 January 2007. Before the sale can take place, the ivory must be veried
by the CITES Secretariat to be eligible for sale within the CITES framework and
458 Chapter 10
Category Live sales Hunts
Price per animal
(ZAR)* Number Category**
Price per animal
(ZAR)* Number
Trained animals 575 000–1 100 000 _ 15–20 kg 290 000 10
Juveniles 50 000–500 000 20–25 kg 325 000 7
Cows plus family 15 000 150 30–35 kg 430 000 2–3
Bulls: approx. 20 kg** 70 000 30 35+ kg 500 000 2
Bulls: approx. 30 kg** 100 000 20
* Numbers quoted in rand, but most trading takes place in US$ and an exchange rate of ZAR7.2 per US$ has been used
** Weight of tusks
Table 4: Average prices and number of elephants traded in South Africa per year over
the period 2005–2007* (Grobler, pers. comm.)
Can people living in areas adjacent to and in elephant-containing ecosystems
benet in any way from the presence of the elephants? One mechanism through
which elephants can benet local communities is through community-based
natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes. CBNRM programmes
that aim to partially devolve property rights over wildlife to communities on
communal land have been under development in nearly all southern African
countries since the 1980s, and are well developed in Namibia, Zimbabwe, and
Botswana. Wildlife use, involving elephants for both wildlife viewing and trophy
hunting, is commonly associated with these programmes. CBNRM in Namibia
(Libanda & Blignaut, 2007), and in Botswana, involve both non-consumptive
and consumptive tourism, but in Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE programme, over
80 per cent of income derives from trophy hunting, which in the 1990s was
dominated by elephant values (Bond, 1994; 1999). is gure seems to have
risen above 90 per cent in recent years (Muchapondwa, 2003).
Elephants are therefore quite important as generators of income both
nationally and for local communities in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
However, they also generate costs in the form of damage to crops and
infrastructure wherever they occur outside of fenced conservation areas.
Sutton (2001) and Sutton et al. (2004) conducted a detailed household survey
to measure the costs and benefits of living with elephants in the Caprivi
Region of Namibia. Sutton determined that in the agro-pastoral system, which
predominates in this region, elephants generate fewer damage costs than
other wildlife, and that livestock actually causes more crop damage than all
wildlife put together. Nevertheless, elephants still manage to reduce crop yields
signicantly. Jones & Barnes (2007) used crop damage data in crop enterprise
459The economic value of elephants
models to show that average crop losses due to elephants reduced net prots
for small-scale crop growers by some 30 per cent. Crop damage varies spatially,
and in areas where it is the highest (some two or three times the average),
crop prots can be eliminated altogether. Barnes (2006) used a similar crop
enterprise approach to estimate the value of crop losses due to elephants in the
Okavango Delta area of Botswana. Here, damage levels were generally higher,
and average small-scale, rain-fed crop production prots were reduced by
some 75 per cent, and even entirely eliminated in some cases.
Elephant crop damage cost level
Basic damage cost 2 x damage cost 3 x damage cost
Trust prot 604 200 333 600 –155 900
Community net benet 1 199 400 928 800 439 300
Gross output 2 578 300 2 578 300 2 578 300
Gross national income (GNI) 2 002 900 1 777 600 1 349 800
Net national income (NNI) 1 894 400 1 669 100 1 241 400
a In 2006 Pula 1.00 was equal to ZAR 1.14, and US$ 0.16; Pula ination factor from 2006 to 2007 is 1.06
Table 5: Impact of elephant crop damage costs on the measures of private and economic
viability for a model CBNRM community trust investment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
(Pula per annum, 2006)a (source: Barnes, 2006)
Of importance here is the degree to which elephant damage costs incurred by
communities can be oset by the benets they derive from use of elephants
through CBNRM. Models of community investments in CBNRM, developed by
Barnes et al. (2001; 2002) were used to compare the wildlife crop damage costs
with the utilisation benets incurred by communities in both of the Caprivi and
Okavango delta study sites. Table 5 and gure 2 (derived from Barnes, 2006)
show the results for a typical CBNRM investment in the Okavango delta. e
impacts of various crop damage levels (based on average gures) on the prots
made by the community trust, the community members as a group, and the
contribution made by the investment to the gross and net national income,
were measured. Generally, benets outweighed costs for all measures. In the
case of the community trust, losses were only incurred when damage costs of
three times the average levels were sustained over time. Jones & Barnes’ (2007)
results for the Caprivi Strip, Namibia, also established that CBNRM benets
generally outweighed crop damage costs. Various policy options are available
to address elephant and wildlife damage costs. ese studies suggested that
460 Chapter 10
human-elephant conicts could be internalised with CBNRM programmes.
For a further discussion on the human–elephant link within a CBNRM context,
please see Chapter 4.
While it appears that in southern Africa rural people at the community
level can derive positive net benefits from wildlife, do they actually derive
direct nancial gains from it? Libanda & Blignaut (2007) found that in Namibia
households do generally benet signicantly from CBNRM and that sucient
institutional mechanisms are in place to ensure broad-based support for the
programme, as indicated by the rapid growth of the CBNRM programme from
its inception in 1996, to the end of 2006, when it included 50 CBNRM areas and
covered an area of 118 705 km2. e area under CBNRM management comprises
15 per cent of the land surface of Namibia and is adding to the 16.5 per cent of
the land surface area that is already formally protected. CBNRM areas already
host 37 per cent of Namibia’s rural population and a further 31 conservancies
are in various stages of development, clearly indicating the widespread interest
in, and support for, the programme.
Figure 2: Impact of crop damage costs due to elephants on the economic gross output,
the contribution to the gross national income, and the private community net benefits for
a model CBNRM community trust investment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana (Pula per
annum: 2006) (Barnes, 2006)
In contrast, this success of CBNRM is not unequivocally shared in Zimbabwe.
Muchapondwa (2003) and Muchapondwa et al. (2003) conducted contingent
461The economic value of elephants
valuation studies in Mudzi District, a CAMPFIRE district since 1992, where
households’ willingness to pay for the preservation of elephant was measured.
Some 570 households, randomly selected from within two similar wards in Mudzi
District were surveyed, and, along with the willingness to pay bids, variables
such as household size and income, sex, age, and education of household head,
distance from an elephant reserve, size of intruding elephant herds, existence of
mitigation, support for government conservation, participation in agriculture,
and labour spent on mitigation were tested. e studies found that 34 per cent
of households were willing to pay for elephant preservation, with a median
willingness to pay (WTP) of Z$300 or US$5.45. is was 3.87 per cent of median
annual income. However, 62 per cent of households had a negative willingness
to pay for elephant – they were willing to pay to have elephants removed from
their area, with a median WTP of Z$98 or US$1.78. is was 1.27 per cent of
median annual income.
The results indicated that the community as a whole had a net positive
willingness to pay for elephant preservation, but that the majority of community
members did not support elephant preservation. is suggested that any net
benets that the community might have derived from CBNRM must not have
been reaching many households. Muchapondwa et al. (2003) recommended
external transfers to households in Mudzi to increase incentives for elephant
conservation. e willingness to pay values estimated by Muchapondwa et al.
(2003) can be said to represent non-use values, namely, any or all of option,
bequest, or existence values. In the CBNRM context, they are likely to be made
up largely of option values. Apart from these ndings on local non-use values,
no other studies appear to have been carried out.
Other examples
While we have emphasised the studies estimating the economic value of
elephants in southern Africa thus far, a large number of other, non-regional,
studies have been conducted as well, a selection of which is summarised in
table 6. It must be noted that values derived in these studies are not always
comparable, either between themselves or with the studies listed above, since
dierent methods and measures are used.
Using an open-ended stated preference technique, Vredin (1997) estimated
the median Swedish household’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the preservation
of African elephants, which is an attempt to capture the non-use values of
elephants. With a resulting median value of SEK100 (= US$14.92) per household
for the year 1996, it was estimated that the aggregated WTP of the Swedish
462 Chapter 10
population for the preservation of the African fauna and ora (using the African
elephant as indicator) is SEK383 million (=US$53.7 million). e main motives
stated were: existence value (30 per cent of valid observations), care for future
generations (28 per cent – bequest values) and own experiences (18 per cent
– option values). is WTP is sensitive to changing income, as follows: a 1 per
cent increase in income would lead to a 0.3 per cent increase in WTP (Hökby
& Soderqvist, 2003). When taking this income elasticity into account as well as
an average growth rate of 2.8 per cent, and changes in population since 1996,
but with all other things being equal, aggregated WTP in 2006 has increased to
SEK420 million (US$57 million). At average 2006 exchange rates, this amounts
to US$14.73 per household per year. Currently, there are 470 000–690 000
African elephants in the wild (WWF, undated). Assuming 500 000 elephants
and extrapolating to all 150 million European and US households (see Bulte
et al., 2006), this amounts to an indicative total WTP of US$2.2 billion per
annum, or US$4 420 per elephant per annum. ese numbers are, however,
only indicative of the fact that the WTP for elephant conservation is potentially
signicant. ey cannot be used in absolute terms since they are based on too
many assumptions.
e estimated total gross tourism viewing value of elephants, in particular,
was estimated at between US$25 and 30 million in Kenya in 1989 (Brown &
Henry, 1989). is value was based on the travel costs of European and North
American visitors and their stated purpose of travel. With an estimated 16 000
elephants in Kenya in 1989 (Ivory Trade Review Group, as quoted on the website, and using a low value of US$25
million per annum, that amounts to a mean WTP of US$1 562 per elephant in
Kenya. Assuming declining travel costs and rising income over time this gure
can be used as indicative for current values, but with low levels of condence.
Assuming that only three-quarters of Africas elephants (375 000) are accessible
to tourism this provides an indicative value of US$585 million or US$3.91 per
European and US household per year. is is probably a low estimate, as up to 90
per cent of African elephants occur in southern and eastern Africa (Blanc et al.,
2007), both of which regions are readily accessible to international tourism.
With low levels of condence in these numbers – due to the fact that the studies
on which they are based are dated and were carried out by various researchers
in a variety of places using dierent methods – all of these discrepancies make
comparisons dicult.
463The economic value of elephants
What has been valued Valuation technique Source Values Remarks
WTP of Swedes to preserve the
population of African elephant
• Open Ended Contingent
Valuation Method Vredin (1997) 1996; US$53.7 million for all Swedes 1500 Swedish residents in age group 19–75
• Linear aggregation Hokby & Soderqvist (2003) Median: SEK 100 per household
The cost of preventing a decline
of elephants from severe
commercial poaching for their
Defensive Expenditure
Method (Cost of
Leader-Williams (1994) 1981: US$215 per km2 (adjusted to
1994 values: $340 per km2)
The relationship between spending and success in
protecting elephants was signicant but only explained
32% of the variance
Tourism value of elephants in
Kenya Travel costs Brown & Henry (1989) 1989: US$25–30 million pa,
$1 562 per elephant
Estimating consumer surplus from European and North
American visitors
Conservation of 650 elephants
in Amboseli NP
Marginal cost of PES
scheme to conserve
Van Kooten & Bulte (2000)
Bulte et al. (2006)
US$10 per acre per year
(US$2 470 per km2) or US$175
per elephant per year; equal to an
estimated minimum of US$0.60 per
European and US household per year
for all African elephants
Current estimates of the African elephant population
amount to some 500 000 head. Assuming a minimum
benchmark cost of $175 per elephant per year, the
total benets of elephant conservation should amount
to $87.5 x 106 per year. Dividing by the number of
households (150 x 106) this amounts to $0.60 per
household per year (Bulte et al. 2006)
Value of ivory exports from
Africa Market price
Ivory Trade Review
Group(as quoted
Cobb (1989)
1979: US$36.89 million
1987: US$19.18 million
1979–1987: >US$500 million
Estimated 1.3 million elephants killed for their tusks
during 1970s and 1980s
Ivory value Market price Vredin (1995) 1987: US$2 734 per elephant
464 Chapter 10
What has been valued Valuation technique Source Values Remarks
Trophy value Market price Vredin (1995) 1989: US$2 366 per elephant
Relocation of elephants from
KNP to Shamwari Game Reserve Market price
Wilderness Conservancy
US$2 850 per elephant
Table 6: Valuation studies on African elephants (excluding studies from southern Africa)
465The economic value of elephants
Another way to value elephants is to estimate the minimum costs to
sustain an elephant or elephant population. This would normally provide
a measure of minimum value. e minimum cost to conserve elephants in
Luangwa Valley, Zambia, during a time of intensive poaching was estimated
at around US$215 per km2 in 1981 values, and when adjusted for inflation
amounts to US$340 per km2 in 1994 terms (Leader-Williams, 1994). Using
the same average 4.5 per cent annual increase in costs from 1981 to 2006 as
used by Leader-Williams (1994), current cost levels are estimated at around
US$600 per km2. Assuming desired density of two in savanna
habitat – which is high – this amounts to a cost for elephant conservation of
US$300 per elephant or US$150 million per annum. In relation to the number of
households in Europe and the US this amounts to US$1 burden per household
per annum. ese results should be interpreted with caution as only 32 per cent
of conservation success could be explained by spending levels in the original
study (Leader-Williams, 1994, 31). is implies that more spending, i.e. a bigger
budget, is insucient to assure elephant conservation, but institutional factors
and management practices play a signicant role as well.
When elephants cross protected area boundaries into adjacent human-
inhabited areas, the costs of protection increase. In a study on the minimum cost
of implementing a payments for ecosystem goods and services (PES) scheme
in the Amboseli National Park of Kenya it was estimated that Maasai farmers
needed compensation equal to US$10 per acre per year for roaming elephant
populations in their croplands (Bulte et al., 2006). For the 650 elephants of the
Amboseli Park, this amounts to a compensation cost of US$175 per elephant.
Assuming that this study is representative of all African farmers confronted with
elephants (a very strict assumption) and that all of the 500 000 elephants in Africa
can migrate across protected area boundaries (a clear worst-case situation),
this amounts to a maximum of US$87.5 million per annum in compensation
payments. For comparison, this amounts to a theoretical burden of US$0.60
per household per annum for all European and US households, which implies
that if all these households pay US$0.60 per year, sucient money could be
collected to oset the damage caused by the elephants to crops.
Care should be taken interpreting this number since it is based only on one
study consisting of 650 animals, but, indeed, it does indicate that the value from
tourism (estimated above as US$3.91 per European and US household per year)
is signicantly more than the damage cost caused by elephants. is appears to
create a unique opportunity for the implementation of a PES system.
e cost of translocation is also an indication of the socio-political WTP
for the conservation of elephants. In South Africa, costs of up to US$2 850
466 Chapter 10
per elephant were reported for translocation within the country (Wilderness
Conservancy, no date); see also Chapter 5 for a detailed discussion. e total
WTP for elephant relocation has not yet been estimated.
Vredin (1995) estimated the ivor y value per elephant at US$2 734
(1987 prices). According to a recent report by CWI (2007), ivory prices for
unworked pieces of ivory range from US$121 to US$900 (average US$390) per
kilogram. Another recent release by CITES stated that the black market value
of African ivory is approaching a high of US$700 per kilogram (CITES, 2007).
It is well known that ivory per elephant is declining rapidly, and currently
estimated at between 7 kg and 12 kg of ivory per African elephant (Van Kooten,
1995; Hunter et al., 2004). Multiplying this by the price range of US$121–900
provides an estimate of US$850–US$6 300 per elephant. At an average price
of US$ the current average value is estimated at around US$2 725 per
elephant. Given the illegal nature of the ivory trade, it is very dicult to estimate
the number of elephants involved. Nevertheless, Hunter et al. (2004) used one
set of data, and careful extrapolation methods, to estimate that the ivory from
between 4 862 and 12 249 African elephants is required annually to supply the
unregulated markets in Africa. Although it is only a best guess at this stage, this
would imply a market of between US$4.1 and US$77.2 million annually. is
represents a theoretical burden of between US$0.03 and US$0.51 per European
and US household. e trophy value of elephants was closely matched to the
value of ivory and estimated at US$2 366 at 1989 prices (Verdin, 1995).
e suite of economic values of elephants are summarised in table 7. ough
these values are by no means denitive and are often based on outdated data
and various assumptions, using dierent valuation techniques, a clear picture
appears. e consumptive benets (e.g. ivory, trophy hunting) of the African
elephant are much less than its non-consumptive (e.g. tourism) and non-use
(e.g. existence, option, and bequest) values. e stated WTP for the preservation
of the African elephant for just the Swedish population (US$57 million) is only
28 per cent less than the high-end estimate for the value of the total ivory market
(US$77 million). If we hypothesise that this same WTP is shared by all European
and American households – which are more or less, relatively speaking, on the
same welfare level when compared to the average African household – then the
high-end value of the ivory market is only 3.5 per cent of the potential Euro–
North American WTP for the preservation of the African elephant. is analysis
467The economic value of elephants
also points out that a compensation programme for both the direct damage
costs of elephants to farmers and lost ivory income (a combined cost of US$165
million per annum) is 7.5 per cent of the estimated WTP for preservation by
European and American households. Such a voluntary conservation aid
programme would also save an additional US$150 million in protection costs.
Obviously, there is little condence in the absolute level of these numbers,
or how much of this market could actually be realised, or what South Africa’s
portion of it could be, but they are suciently high to indicate that options for
alternative scenarios exist when considering the potential scope for the creation
of a market for the preservation of the African elephant.
Type value
value per US &
EU household
Value per
elephant (US$)2
Total estimated
value per
annum (US$)
Mainly existence, bequest and experience
value 14.73 4 420 2.2 billion
Non-consumptive tourism value 3.91 1 562 585 million
Protection costs against poaching 1 300 159 million
Compensation costs to surrounding land
owners 0.60 175 87.5 million
Osetting consumptive value of ivory 0.03–0.51 2 730 4.1–77.2 million
Consumptive value of trophy hunting n/a 2 360 n/a
Translocation costs n/a 2 850 n/a
Trade in live elephants3n/a 2 000–70 000 n/a
Hunting values3n/a 40 000–70 000 n/a
1 For comparison all values are expressed in terms of 150 million European and US households willing to pay, see
Bulte et al., 2006 for a similar approach
2 Values adjusted to reect 2006/07 estimates
3 These values, from the South African studies, are inated due to the restricted market
n/a Not available
Table 7: Summary of main economic values of African elephants
The formally measured and accounted-for direct consumptive use values
of the African elephant are low, as is to be expected given the heavy impact
of the CITES ban. As noted by Barnes and his colleagues, the realised TEV,
excluding non-use values, of elephants has declined due to the CITES listing of
elephants, probably by as much as 47 per cent. Although the non-consumptive,
indirect, and non-use values of elephants are high (Vredin, 1997; table 7), the
CITES listing has reduced the real cash ow to both nations and communities.
468 Chapter 10
This is because there are currently few mechanisms to retrieve or capture
the non-use values. What is required is measures to protect, compensate,
translocate, and even consume elephants, in a sustainable fashion, and,
concurrently, for local communities, the nation, and the elephants to derive
direct, measurable, and tangible benefits from all such activities. Within
the development of such a ‘conservation, preservation and sustained use’
market, and of institutions to support it, Far Eastern countries can likely play
an important role, especially related to the direct consumption’ of elephant
tusks. Additionally, if communities do not directly benet from the presence
of elephants, whether through consumptive or non-consumptive use or a
combination thereof, indications are that they will not support elephant
conservation in future (see the example from Zimbabwe). If, however, they are
integrated, and made part of the ‘solution’, then indications are that they would
readily support conservation (see example from Namibia). e experiences of
these countries oer South Africa excellent learning references.
What is also apparent is that an inclusive conservation package that allows
for all the possible economic benets to be realised would be easily oset by
the sum of economic benets that could be gained. e challenge remains to
create an ecient institution that would be able to capture these gains – that
is, the economic rent – and distribute this to the benet of both landowners
and elephants. Evidence from all the studies cited previously suggests that
international willingness to pay for elephant conservation in African countries
exists, which implies that South Africa has a range of options to choose from.
Barnes et al. (2002) supports this view and maintains that much of the hitherto
substantial international NGO and donor support for CBNRM is a form of non-
use values. Additionally, contingent valuation studies among wildlife viewing
tourists in Botswana and Namibia (Barnes, 1996b; Barnes et al., 1999) revealed
a signicant willingness to pay for wildlife conservation. e tourists surveyed
generally had trip consumer surpluses and were willing to pay more for their
trips than they had paid, a view supported by South African studies as well
(Turpie, 2003; Turpie & Joubert, 2001; Geach, 1997). is implies that the value
tourists received from viewing the wildlife was more than the economic cost of
hosting them. e surplus, which constitutes economic rent, is attributable to
the wildlife (elephants) and, if retained (captured) these rents could be used
to advance conservation. At least a portion of the tourists’ willingness to pay
for conservation could thus come out of these surpluses, and may be dened
as direct non-consumptive use value. It is important to note, however, that the
estimated non-use values, as summarised in both tables 5 and 7, are mostly
only hypothetical values. Until institutional mechanisms are created through
469The economic value of elephants
which such hypothetical values can ow and be materialised to the advantage
of both people (through CBNRM or otherwise) and elephants, and to the nation
as a whole, they remain hypothetical.
Economists (e.g. Bulte et al., 2006; Van Kooten & Bulte, 2000; Kahn, 1998;
Barbier et al., 1990) seem to share the view that the use of markets through a
well-designed institutional arrangement is a much better way of managing a
precious resource over the long term, than an outright ban. is is so because
markets oer more management options and exibility than command and
control mechanisms. Barbier et al. summarise this thought as follows (Barbier
et al., 1990, 147):
e future of the African elephant is dependent upon the taking of immediate
action. e ivory trade ban must be considered an interim measure, not a
solution. Sustainable populations of the African elephant, as with so many
other endangered species, will depend upon the development of reforms
which constructively utilize the trade, rather than attempts to combat it.
Institutional reforms to this end must be addressed now.
The development of market options has to be considered also from the
perspective that ocial development aid, especially predominant in East Africa,
is not sustainable in the long run and cannot sustain or improve conservation
(Van Kooten & Bulte, 2000; Norton-Grith, 2007). A further stimulus for the
development of markets is provided by the emergence of the Far Eastern
markets as signicant role-players within the global ivory trade. is implies
that the political-economic gridlock concerning the ban on trade in ivory
cannot be maintained indenitely. Leakage – both the legal and illegal trade
in ivory – is likely to occur since sanctions and bans are imperfect measures in
the long run. It is much more prudent to manage proactively and to introduce
the use of markets and incentives measures in a controlled environment rather
than to be confronted with the eects of leakage. Since the economic system is
a self-organising system (Krugman, 1996) that requires adaptive management,
markets and incentive measures are much more efficient and effective in
achieving such desired behavioural change, if constituted and institutionalised
appropriately, than are traditional command-and-control measures. In this
context the use of market-based and command-and-control measures can
occur in conjunction with each other for a period of transition, allowing markets
to operate within a controlled environment and, progressively, to mature.
e time for such institutional change is ripe now. Almost two decades
since the African elephant’s listing as an endangered species, its numbers
470 Chapter 10
have increased by 50 per cent. Concurrently, much experience has been
gained in incorporating CBNRM into the conservation framework and
thereby distributing conservation benets broadly, and this could include the
sustainable direct use or extraction of elephants (Damm, 2002). Such direct
use will reduce at least the growth in the number of elephants, but, as has
been observed in Botswana, the numbers are likely to be relatively small. It
should be noted that the sustainable use of elephants is, at least theoretically,
not in conict with the non-use values, but could instead be an important
In parallel to the development of CBNRM and other institutional
arrangements over the past two decades, much has been learnt since the late
1980s and early 1990s on how to establish and operate markets for ecosystem
goods and services (Pagiola & Platais, 2007). Such a market would allow for
the transfer of money, especially from Europe and the USA, to capture some of
the non-use values of elephants. In so doing, the economic value of elephants
can be optimised by capturing all the values (direct consumptive, direct
non-consumptive, indirect, and non-use values) and, additionally, by releasing
nances to both conserve the elephants, and increase their range to include
human-occupied areas (Van Aarde & Jackson, 2007; Van Aarde et al., 2006). is
option would inject new streams of income into rural communities, all across
South Africa, especially to those living in areas adjacent to elephant-containing
ecosystems, many of whom have a formal land claim on currently protected
land. is oers an opportunity to link the formal (rst) economy of South
Africa with the informal (second) one, and to inject nances into the second
economy by embracing the two as partners and fellow custodians of the natural
environment and national heritage. is option is becoming increasingly viable
due to current and probable future socio-demographic changes, as South Africa
undergoes a rapid increase in urbanisation and possibly even de-population of
the rural areas.
Some values of the African elephant are clearly expressed in the market, such as
tourist expenditures on elephant viewing, or the direct costs of trophy hunting;
the direct use benets from elephants include ivory, although banned, and
other animal products. However, non-use values are generally not captured as
income or observed, and are hence dicult, but not impossible, to determine.
The willingness to pay to conserve elephants for future generations on the
part of many people who may never even see an elephant in their lifetimes, is
471The economic value of elephants
Box 3: Key research questions
What is the economic value of elephants in South Africa?
What is the most appropriate, desirable, and feasible institutional •
arrangement and market mechanism to realise the suite of economic
values of elephants?
How could elephant markets, realising the direct, indirect, and non-•
use values of elephants, benefit local populations adjacent to elephant
containing ecosystems?
What are the likely impact of the emerging ivory market in the Far •
Eastern countries on South Africa and the impact thereof on the elephant
management options for South Africa?
How can markets be constructed to assist in reducing the risk and •
uncertainty in managing elephants and elephant containing ecosystems
to the advantage of both elephants and people?
generally only partially captured through donations and thus largely remains
unexpressed. An interpretation of economic value thus goes beyond exchange
values as measured through market-based transactions.
Although there are no studies on the TEV of elephants in South Africa, there
is a rich knowledge base thanks to work done in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and
Namibia. Based on these studies, there is evidence of (1) an increase in the
proportional contribution of non-consumptive values to the TEV of elephants,
but (2) a decline in the overall economic value derived from elephants after the
CITES ban on trading in elephant products. ere is mixed evidence of the extent
of elephant damage to local communities’ crops and infrastructure from studies
done in Botswana and Namibia. In some cases it was less than the damage by
livestock, but in other cases substantial losses were incurred. In Kenya it was
estimated that benchmark damage costs to the Maasai amounted to US$2 470
km-2.year. In South Africa it is more than likely that costs are substantially lower
due to our formal elephant management system in fenced-in conservation
areas. A list of pertinent research questions with specic reference to South
Africa is listed in box 3.
e success of institutions to compensate local communities, on the one
hand, for their loss in income of elephant and elephant products and, on the
other, for damage costs, is also mixed. ere is evidence of some success in
472 Chapter 10
distributing the economic value of conservation through CBNRM schemes
in Namibia, but much less in Zimbabwe. e proper function of institutional
success is a prerequisite for the eective internalisation of damages.
Based on evidence of international willingness to pay for the conservation of
elephants, and the recent development concerning markets for ecosystem goods
and services, ways have to be found to internalise this expressed willingness to
pay to advance elephant conservation. Traditional policy options are limited in
their scope as regards achieving this objective, but signicant evidence exists
that there is potentially sucient international support to develop market-based
alternatives. ese high expressed non-use values for elephants are based on
three factors, namely the fact that elephants exist – in other words that they
have to be preserved for future generations; the ecological role they play within
ecosystems; and the fact that people want to have the option to enjoy benets
from them in future. e preliminary meta-analysis presented in this chapter
suggests that the non-use values from Europe and the US are three to four times
higher than tourism values, 25 times higher then the benchmark compensation
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... Other Trade: A legal domestic trade in African Savanna Elephant hides is present in South Africa. There have been limited reports of African Savanna Elephant poaching for other body parts beyond ivory, such as meat, bone, skin and hair (Blignaut et al. 2008). International live trade in African Savanna Elephants occurs between South Africa and other countries, mainly in an effort to re-establish or fortify dwindling populations in some protected areas. ...
... The economic impact (real or perceived) of wildlife has a strong influence upon people's attitudes towards conservation (Blignaut, De Wit & Barnes, 2008;Lindsey, Roulet & Romanach, 2007;Prins & Grootenhuis, 2000). Since communal lands comprise a large fraction of rural Africa (up to 500% more than state-managed forest reserves and national parks) (Alden Wily, 2011), economic incentives to communities that promote or at a minimum tolerate living with wildlife is an important solution to promote participation of local communities in biodiversity conservation efforts and improved enforcement (Child et al., 2012;Di Minin, Leader-Williams & Bradshaw, 2016;Naidoo et al., 2016). ...
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Unprecedented poaching levels triggered by demand for ivory in Far East Asia are threatening the persistence of African elephant Loxodonta africana . Southern African countries make an important contribution to elephant conservation and could soon become the last stronghold of elephant conservation in Africa. While the ecological factors affecting elephant distribution and densities have extensively been accounted for, there is a need to understand which socioeconomic factors affect elephant numbers in order to prevent conflict over limited space and resources with humans. We used elephant count data from aerial surveys for seven years in a generalized linear model, which accounted for temporal correlation, to investigate the effect of six socioeconomic and ecological variables on the number of elephant at the country level in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA). Important factors in predicting elephant numbers were the proportion of total land surface under cultivation, human population density and the number of tourists visiting the country. Specifically, elephant numbers were higher where the proportion of total land surface under cultivation was the lowest; where population density was the lowest and where tourist numbers had increased over the years. Our results confirm that human disturbance is affecting elephant numbers, but highlight that the benefits provided by ecotourism could help enhance elephant conservation. While future studies should include larger areas and more detailed data at the site level, we stress that the development of coordinated legislation and policies to improve land-use planning are needed to reduce the impact of increasing human populations and agriculture on elephant.
... These measures increased the value of ivory as a protected material, and ivory was increasingly obtained illegally as it was difficult to control hunting which had been practised for centuries before (Parker 1973). These early protectionist measures therefore set the stage for the way that elephants are conserved and the sale of ivory is regulated even today (Blignaut, de Wit and Barnes 2008). ...
This article examines the artefacts of big game hunting in female elephants from East Africa, natural history collections of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A contextual object biography approach is utilized to analyse the life histories of these specimens through the use of archival and isotopic evidence. Emphasis is placed on the example of an elephant shot on Mt Elgon, Kenya, in 1902, parts of which were preserved and shipped to England for curation and display in the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent. The results of isotopic analyses on some of the remains reveal a life history that has implications for developing conservation strategies for modern elephant populations in the region and contribute baseline data critical for interpreting the isotopic signatures of ancient ivory believed to have been exported from eastern Africa.
Having experienced significant declines in its wildlife populations, especially the elephant, Tanzania has embarked on a nation-wide anti-poaching program. These efforts are similar to those in regional countries and informed by security discourses that claim poaching is an issue of (inter)national security. However, far more widespread than the contemporary “poacher-as-terrorist” trope used to rationalize militarized conservation in other locations is Tanzania’s categorization of the poacher as an “economic saboteur,” who threatens the national economy. In this article, I show how this categorization is one aspect of a broader economic rationale directing the country’s increasingly militarized anti-poaching response. Here, the logic is that wildlife is central to the tourism industry, and critical for the economy, and therefore must be secured from its poacher enemies. Highlighting various examples of this economic threat discourse, the article details how conservation organizations and governmental actors, aiming to “stop the slaughter” of Tanzania’s elephant populations, utilize an economic rationality in their efforts to defend the value of wildlife to the Tanzanian economy. Premised on the desire to expand the economy, this economic rationale authorizes both the intensification of militarized conservation policy and practices and contradictory partnerships that arise within it, including with the extractive industries.
Market goods, i.e., those which are traded on markets, have their value determined by their price. Price is the main determinant of the decision to buy or sell such a good. Non-market goods, i.e., goods that are not traded on the markets, do not have their price determining their value. However, economics has developed various methods that directly or indirectly determine the value of non-market goods. These methods are used to determine the value of public goods (e.g., national defense) or common goods (e.g., the environment and its values), allowing decision-making on their creation, use or protection. However, free time is a specific non-market good which has its value, which should also be subject to valuation constituting the basis for decision-making on its use. The purpose of the chapter is to analyze the methods of valuation of non-market goods in terms of the possibility of their use in the valuation of free time.
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We propose a method for assessing the persistence of species where the resource is harvested. Four sustainability measures are employed, namely a population measure, a harvest measure, a profitability measure and a catchability measure. These are used to assess the sustainability of two natural resources representing terrestrial and aquatic species, namely White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) and South African abalone (Haliotis Midae) species, respectively. The framework is used to evaluate these two resources against relevant local and international protected species listings. The results show that the proposed framework produces a more conservative approach to listing threatened species, consistent with the precautionary principle. The framework provides a way of conducting a precautionary assessment of extinction risk under conditions of exploitation, across a range of aquatic and terrestrial species. Once developed, we also apply this framework to seven additional species using a scenario analysis. The results highlight the importance of taking into consideration institutional factors under conditions of overexploitation.
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Protected areas (PAs) remain central to the conservation of biodiversity. Classical PAs were conceived as areas that would be set aside to maintain a natural state with minimal human influence. However, global environmental change and growing cross-scale anthropogenic influences mean that PAs can no longer be thought of as ecological islands that function independently of the broader social-ecological system in which they are located. For PAs to be resilient (and to contribute to broader social-ecological resilience), they must be able to adapt to changing social and ecological conditions over time in a way that supports the long-term persistence of populations, communities, and ecosystems of conservation concern. We extend Ostrom's social-ecological systems framework to consider the long-term persistence of PAs, as a form of land use embedded in social-ecological systems, with important cross-scale feedbacks. Most notably, we highlight the cross-scale influences and feedbacks on PAs that exist from the local to the global scale, contextualizing PAs within multi-scale social-ecological functional landscapes. Such functional landscapes are integral to understand and manage individual PAs for long-term sustainability. We illustrate our conceptual contribution with three case studies that highlight cross-scale feedbacks and social-ecological interactions in the functioning of PAs and in relation to regional resilience. Our analysis suggests that while ecological, economic, and social processes are often directly relevant to PAs at finer scales, at broader scales, the dominant processes that shape and alter PA resilience are primarily social and economic
Wildlife is in jeopardy in Côte d'Ivoire, amid the many signs of an impending ecological disaster. This chapter demonstrates that the failure of conservation policies in Côte d'Ivoire can be attributed to the lack of synergy between governmental institutions, a lack of awareness about the importance of nature conservation among various stakeholders, and a glaring institutional weakness at several levels. Most of the governmental agencies in charge of biodiversity conservation in Côte d'Ivoire are faced with a crucial lack of financial, technical, and human means. The observed inefficiency of the many institutions in charge of various aspects of biodiversity exploitation and conservation has partly resulted from the antiquated nature of most key laws, as well as the lack of synergy among the existing laws.
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Our thanks to Marca Weinberg for helpful comments.
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THE PREVAILING INCREASE IN ELEPHANT numbers across areas of southern Africa raises concern for their impact on biological diversity. Several approaches to elephant management focus on limiting numbers to alleviate these consequences. However, landscape fragmentation, fences, water supplementation as well as the shape and size of some conservation areas restrict range use and intensify the effects of elephants. We propose that the consequences of range limitation may best be addressed by restoring seasonal and regional patterns of land use. It can be achieved by linking existing conservation landscapes both nationally and internationally. This, rather than the management of numbers, should reduce local impact and help to stabilize elephant numbers regionally. We address the importance of space to elephant management by advocating a scientific approach that relies on the establishment of megaparks across southern Africa. These should facilitate local movements and regional dispersal both within and even between these parks. This will also allow for spatial dynamics (such as source-sink interactions) that stabilize numbers regionally while reducing local impacts. We believe that our proposal improves the scientific framework for conservation initiatives both nationally and regionally. It is in line with current developments in conservation science that emphasize habitat and ecosystem management. The implementation of this approach, however, needs substantial research and refinement for its validation and calls for a regional focus on conservation management, especially in view of local economic and social realities.
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An Africa-wide overview of the distribution, abundance and conservation issues of African elephants as at the end of 2006. The introductory section is comprised of a short review outlining the background of the African Elephant Database, a discussion on the types of data and how is is it interpreted in the compilation of the report, and a descriptive text focused on the organization of the report. The body of the report initially presents the data at the continental level, following this data from the regions of Central Eastern, Southern and West Africa are presented with range states within each region reviewed in alphabetical order. Elephant population estimates and distributions from 37 range states in sub-Saharan Africa is consistently reviewed in concise text, clear tabular statistics and attractive population distribution maps. A comprehensive bibliography directly associated with the mapped information and three appendices, a quality index on the data, a comparative listing of estimates from regions and some protected areas in Eastern and Southern African countries, and an alphabetical listing of protected areas which fall within the elephant range throught the continent,complete the report.
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Contingent valuation was used to survey tourists viewing wildlife in Namibia. Expenditures on, and willingness to pay for, wildlife viewing trips, park admission, a wildlife conservation fund and a community fund were elicited. Each wildlife viewing tourist, in Namibia in 1995, contributed an estimated N$907 to national income in the tourism sector at economic prices, or N$250.3 million in aggregate. In addition, the tourists benefited from consumer surpluses: domestic tourists were willing to pay N$362 per tourist, or N$30.0 million per annum in aggregate, more than they actually did pay for wildlife viewing. Foreign tourists also experienced consumer surpluses, which amounted to N$627 per tourist, or N$121.0 million per annum in aggregate. Ways in which Namibia could extract foreign consumer surplus warrant investigation. Introduction of higher, daily park admission fees could result in the capture of some N$18.2 million new revenue per annum. Introduction of a wildlife conservation fund in Namibia could also result in the capture of some N$28.7 million per annum, from tourists, for investment in the wildlife sector. Further, introduction of a community trust fund could result in the capture of some N$7.2 million per annum, from tourists, for rural development.
The wildlife resources in Botswana were studied to determine their direct use values. Cost- benefit analysis was applied to develop models for wildlife viewing, safari hunting, community-based wildlife use, game ranching, ostrich farming, crocodile farming and ranching, elephant utilisation and wildlife product processing. Various planning and policy options were analysed within the wildlife sector. Contingent valuation was used to estimate economic characteristics of demand for wildlife-viewing tourism. A linear programniing model, which optimises the contribution of use activities to national income, within a framework of policy constraints, was developed for the whole sector. The findings confirm that wildlife in Botswana can contribute positively and sustainably to national income, and that this can happen without loss in biological diversity. Wildlife's potential contribution will not likely exceed four percent of gross domestic product. The likely flow of positive use values from the wildlife sector justifies anticipated public expenditures in it. In expansion of wildlife use, emphasis should be placed on wildlife viewing, and, to a lesser extent, ostrich production, crocodile production, and community wildlife use in high value areas. Later, as capital, labour and management resources become more abundant, the sector should be diversified to develop all uses fully. A ban on consumptive uses of wildlife would result in 16 percent less gross value added from wildlife in the sector, and would involve use of 75 percent less land. Even with consumptive use, some 88 percent of the wildlife estate cannot generate any direct use value from wildlife in the medium term. The survival of wildlife in Botswana depends largely on its ability to generate economic value. This can happen through an array of uses yielding direct use values, within a framework of land use zoning which precludes loss of indirect use and non-use values, which should also be captured where possible.
Trade in ivory is banned under CITES in an effort to protect the African elephant. The trade ban is supported by some range states, most notably Kenya, because they see the ban as an effective means for protecting a 'flagship' species, one that attracts tourists and foreign aid. It is opposed by some states, mainly in southern Africa, because their elephant populations are exceeding the capacity of local ecosystems with culling and other sources have resulted in the accumulation of large stocks of ivory. They argue that ivory trade will benefit elephant populations. The question of whether an ivory trade ban will protect elephant populations is addressed in this paper using a dynamic partial-equilibrium model that consists of four ivory exporting regions and a single demand region. Results indicate that a trade ban can be successful in maintaining elephant populations if the ban leads to a stigma effect that reduces demand and increases the marginal costs of marketing ivory. Surprisingly, elephant populations are projected to crash if range states can operate an effective quota scheme that even excludes poaching. However, free trade in ivory can be made to protect the elephant if western countries make effective side payments to range states based on in situ numbers of elephants.
This innovative, cutting-edge text takes a hands-on approach to the origins of environmental problems, their economic consequences, and the policies that address them. The text presents environmental economic theory and methods in the first five chapters and then applies and reinforces them with illustrations and applications in the subsequent chapters. No other text provides a stronger link between theory and applications.
In this study contingent valuation and analysis of records were used to investigate demand for wildlife‐viewing visits and entry to protected areas in Botswana. Wildlife‐viewing tourists experienced consumer surpluses amounting to some 20 per cent of their trip expenditures or 41 million Botswana pula in aggregate. They were willing to pay some 4 per cent of their trip expenditures (8 million pula in aggregate) to a Botswana wildlife conservation fund. Price elasticity of demand for wildlife‐viewing trips was close to unity for all visitors, but appears to have been inelastic for campsite users and elastic for lodge users. Demand for entry to and use of parks was strongly price inelastic over the range of a large fee increase in 1989. However, the fee increase was excessive for visitors from southern Africa. The findings provide some guidelines for policy. Botswana could possibly capture more tourism income by soliciting donations to a conservation fund and further differentiating fees.