Skip to main content

Quantifying the effects of diverse private protected area management systems on ecosystem properties in a savannah biome, South Africa

  • Matthew F. Child (a1), Michael J. S. Peel (a2), Izak P. J. Smit (a3) and William J. Sutherland (a1)

The effects of management on ecosystem diversity, structure and function must be understood for the sustainable integration of conservation and development. A potential source of experimentation and learning in ecosystem management is the array of private protected areas worldwide. Autonomous management systems can be seen as natural experiments, presenting an opportunity to explore the consequences of manipulating ecosystem properties. By quantifying management diversity and developing an index of management intensity we assessed the ecological correlates of private protected area management within the savannah biome in South Africa. Management intensity is positively correlated with herbivore density, predator density and ecotourism lodge density and negatively with herbivore community heterogeneity, reintroduction success and primary productivity at the local protected area scale. However, these trade-offs are tantamount to functional diversity as different management systems play unique roles in the regional socio-ecological and socio-economic systems, which range from animal production centres high in commercial value to low density areas that may sustain landscape processes. Furthermore, fenced private protected areas are necessary to safeguard rare species that cannot sustain viable populations in altered ecosystems. Thus, when considered at the regional scale, a private protected area network that constitutes a patchwork of management systems will create a coincident conservation and production landscape. We suggest that maintaining management heterogeneity will provide net benefits to biodiversity and potentially galvanize locally sustainable, wildlife-based economies.

Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
ABSA Report (2003) Game Ranch Profitability in Southern Africa. ABSA Group Economic Research, Rivonia, South Africa.
Bond I., Child B., de la Harpe D., Jones B., Barnes J. & Anderson H. (2004) Private land contribution to conservation in South Africa. In Parks in Transition (ed. Child B.), pp. 2961. Earthscan, London, UK.
Brockington D. & Igoe J. (2006) Eviction for conservation: a global overview. Conservation and Society, 4, 424470.
Carter E., Adams W.M. & Hutton J. (2008) Private protected areas: management regimes, tenure arrangements and protected area categorization in East Africa. Oryx, 42, 177186.
Child M.F. (2010) Conservation on private land in South Africa: management without boundaries? In Fencing Impacts: A Review of the Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts of Game and Veterinary Fencing in Africa with Particular Reference to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (eds Ferguson K. & Hanks J.), pp. 245255. Mammal Research Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
Cronje H., Cronje I. & Botha A. (2005) The distribution and seasonal availability of surface water on the Manyeleti Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Koedoe, 48, 1122.
Damm G. (2005) Game sale statistics South Africa. African Indaba, 3, 1516.
Du Toit J. & Cumming D. (1999) Functional significance of ungulate diversity in African savannas and the ecological implications of the spread of pastoralism. Biodiversity and Conservation, 8, 16431661.
Ewers R.M. & Rodrigues A.S.L. (2008) Estimates of reserve effectiveness are confounded by leakage. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, 113116.
Freitag-Ronaldson S., Kalwa R., Badenhorst J., Erasmus J., Venter F. & Nel F. (2003) Wilderness, wilderness quality management, and recreational opportunities zoning within Kruger National Park, South Africa. USDA Forest Service Proceedings, 23, 3949.
Hansen A.J. & DeFries R. (2007) Ecological mechanism linking protected areas to surrounding lands. Ecological Applications, 17, 974988.
Harrington R., Owen-Smith N., Viljoen P.C., Briggs H.C., Mason D.R. & Funston P. (1999) Establishing the causes of the roan antelope decline in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation, 90, 6978.
Kettles R. & Slotow R. (2009) Management of free-ranging lions on an enclosed game reserve. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 39, 2333.
Kreuter U., Peel M.J.S. & Warnar E. (2010) Wildlife conservation and community-based natural resource management in southern Africa's private nature reserves. Society and Natural Resources, 23, 507524.
Kruger J.M., Reilly B.K. & Whyte I.J. (2008) Application of distance sampling to estimate population densities of large herbivores in Kruger National Park. Wildlife Research, 35, 371376.
Langholz J. & Kerley G. (2006) Combining Conservation and Development on Private Land: An Assessment of Ecotourism-Based Private Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape. Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Report 56. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Langholz J.A. & Lassoie J.P. (2001) Perils and promises of privately owned protected areas. BioScience, 51, 10791085.
Langholz J.A., Lassoie J.P., Lee D. & Chapman D. (2000) Economic considerations of privately owned parks. Ecological Economics, 33, 173183.
Leader-Williams N. (2002) Animal conservation, carbon and sustainability. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 360, 17871806.
Lindsey P., Alexander A., Mills M., Romañach S. & Woodroffe R. (2007) Wildlife viewing preferences of visitors to protected areas in South Africa: implications for the role of ecotourism in conservation. Journal of Ecotourism, 6, 1933.
Lindsey P.A., Romañach S.S. & Davies-Mostert H.T. (2009) The importance of conservancies for enhancing the value of game ranch land for large mammal conservation in southern Africa. Journal of Zoology, 277, 99105.
Owen-Smith N. (1996) Ecological guidelines for water-points in extensive protected areas. South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 26, 107112.
Parker A.H. & Witkowski E.F. (1999) Long-term impacts of abundant perennial water provision for game on herbaceous vegetation in a semi-arid African savanna woodland. Journal of Arid Environments, 41, 309321.
Pasquini L., Cowling R.M., Twyman C. & Wainwright J. (2010) Devising appropriate policies and instruments in support of private conservation areas: lessons learned from the Klein Karoo, South Africa. Conservation Biology, 24, 470478.
Pasquini L., Fitzsimons J.A., Cowell S., Brandon K. & Wescott G. (2011) The establishment of large private nature reserves by conservation NGOs: key factors for successful implementation. Oryx, 45, 373380.
Peel M.J.S., Biggs H. & Zacharias P. (1999) The evolving use of stocking rate indices currently based on animal number and type in semi-arid heterogeneous and complex land-use systems. African Journal of Range and Forage Science, 15, 117127.
Peel M.J.S., Davies R. & Hurt R. (2004) The value and cost of wildlife and wildlife-based activities in the eastern lowveld savanna, South Africa. In Indigenous Forests and Woodlands in South Africa (eds Lawes M.J., Eeley H.C., Shackleton C.M. & Geach B.S.), pp. 775795. University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, Durban, South Africa.
Peel M.J.S., Kruger J. & MacFadyen S. (2007) Woody vegetation of a mosaic of protected areas adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Journal of Vegetation Science, 18, 807.
Polasky S., Nelson E., Lonsdorf E., Fackler P. & Starfield A. (2005) Conserving species in a working landscape: land use with biological and economic objectives. Ecological Applications, 15, 13871401.
Smit I.P.J. & Asner G.P. (2012) Roads increase woody cover under varying geological, rainfall and fire regimes in African savanna. Journal of Arid Environments, 80, 7480.
Thrash I. (2000) Determinants of the extent of indigenous large herbivore impact on herbaceous vegetation at watering points in the north-eastern lowveld, South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments, 44, 6172.
Trollope W.S.W. & Potgieter A.L.F. (1986) Estimating grass fuel loads with a disc pasture meter in the Kruger National Park. Journal of the Grassland Society of Southern Africa, 3, 148152.
Venter F., Naiman R., Biggs H. & Pienaar D. (2008) The evolution of conservation management philosophy: science, environmental change and social adjustments in Kruger National Park. Ecosystems, 11, 173192.
Walker B.H., Emslie R.H., Owen-Smith N. & Scholes R.J. (1987) To cull or not to cull: lessons from a southern African drought. Journal of Applied Ecology, 24, 381401.
Wittemyer G., Elsen P., Bean W.T., Burton A.C. & Brashares J.S. (2008) Accelerated human population growth at protected area edges. Science, 321, 123126.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Child supplementary material
Child supplementary material

 PDF (166 KB)
166 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 44 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 179 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.