A dynamic programming approach to optimise elephant management in the Maputo Elephant Reserve, Mozambique

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Conservation can go hand-in-hand with exploitation of conservation areas through tourism. Private enterprises are active in local conservation initiatives in Africa. In Mozambique, some of these enterprises have long-term licences for the development of national parks or reserves. The motivation of these organisation to participate in these type of activities is ultimately determined by the economic output of their activities. An electric fence has been constructed in the Maputo Elephant Reserve. A costs-benefit analysis was carried out, in order to assist in the optimisation of the management of the elephant population. The model, based on dynamic programming, included several factors: elephant population size, electric fence costs, elephant raid costs, poaching costs, and benefits derived from tourism (game-viewing and hunting). Through this dynamic model poaching and raid costs could be compared to fence construction costs at different elephant population sizes. Marginal benefits elephant-1 derived from non-consumptive use were compared with those from consumptive use. Profits derived from elephant hunting could be evaluated on the basis of their economic or ecological impact, however, due to the large game-viewing profits elephant-1, game-viewing was extremely profitable. The elephant population size influenced the trade-offs derived from different activities. Elephant population growth influenced the time path of the model by reaching maximum stocking rate faster. Total profits increased at a larger elephant population size, as tourist numbers were assumed to increase with increasing elephant density. The resource price of elephant (US $ 5,000) was compared with the marginal value derived from tourism, in order to evaluate the economic consequences of re-stocking. The optimal solution for the planning of the different economic activities in relation to elephant population size are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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