Evaluating land use options at the wildlife/livestock interface: an integrated spatial land use analysis

P. Chaminuka

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


In Africa, rural development and biodiversity conservation, are both important, but sometimes potentially conflicting priorities. Most rural areas adjacent to wildlife protected areas in Southern Africa have high biodiversity potential, but are characterised by high poverty, unemployment, and limited economic activity. The problems in these rural areas are further compounded by problems of crop destruction, and livestock depredation by wildlife. Transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), recently introduced in Southern Africa, have potential to address both biodiversity and poverty alleviation through promotion of multiple land uses such as wildlife ranching, tourism, livestock and crop production. It is however, not clear how these land uses can be combined, and what the associated socio-economic costs and benefits of alternative land use options in these areas are. This study proposed a spatial land use model for evaluating alternative land uses and development pathways in these rural areas. The model maximised net revenues from the land, assuming the presence of a social planner. The model proposed, considered a range of socio-economic and biophysical factors, identified jointly with rural communities. The study comprised five empirical chapters in which the following issues are addressed; (i) socioeconomic risks associated with agriculture at the interface, and community attitudes towards wildlife tourism land uses (ii) contribution of existing livelihood strategies to household incomes, (iii) potential for tourism development and (iv) trade-offs in net revenues between different options for land use. The case study areas was Mhinga, one of the rural areas within the Great Limpopo TFCA in South Africa. The study area is situated on the north-western border of Kruger National Park (KNP), next to the Punda Maria park gate. Results showed that the costs by wildlife related damage such as livestock depredation and diseases, were higher than the benefits in employment and subsidies from the park for households. As a consequence attitudes towards wildlife by farmers were generally negative. There was also no mechanism to compensate households incurring wildlife damage. Households living closer to the park had more problems with wildlife damage. When the contribution of different livelihood activities to household incomes were considered, the study found that the main sources of income were the government welfare grants, formal employment and cattle farming. Cattle farmers were not in support of introducing wildlife based land use activities as they considered them to impose costs on other livelihood activities. Some community members were however of the opinion that introducing wildlife tourism could create employment and improve household incomes, especially for those households not engaged in cattle farming. When preferences of tourists, towards supporting forms of ecotourism outside the KNP were analysed, through a choice experiment approach, the study found that tourists were interested in village tours and crafts markets, but generally reluctant to use accommodation facilities outside the park. Analysis of options for land based development at the interface showed that existing land use practices were not optimal. The model results indicate that, by introducing irrigation, tourism and wildlife land uses, net revenues from land could be doubled in the future. It is concluded that, given the socioeconomic and bio-physical constraints characteristic to the area, most income can be obtained by combining all four land uses in the area in optimal proportions. Factors such as property rights, and benefits distribution which could impact the ability of rural communities in the TFCA to support, utilize and benefit from wildlife resources need to be addressed before any land use changes are implemented.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van Ierland, Ekko, Promotor
  • van der Zijpp, Akke, Promotor
  • Mccrindle, C.M.E., Promotor, External person
  • Groeneveld, Rolf, Co-promotor
Award date18 Jan 2012
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461731333
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • wildlife
  • livestock
  • cattle
  • land use
  • rural communities
  • ecotourism
  • livelihoods


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