Complementary benefits of tourism and hunting to communal conservancies in Namibia

Conserv Biol. 2016 Jun;30(3):628-38. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12643. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Tourism and hunting both generate substantial revenues for communities and private operators in Africa, but few studies have quantitatively examined the trade-offs and synergies that may result from these two activities. We evaluated financial and in-kind benefit streams from tourism and hunting on 77 communal conservancies in Namibia from 1998 to 2013, where community-based wildlife conservation has been promoted as a land-use that complements traditional subsistence agriculture. We used data collected annually for all communal conservancies to characterize whether benefits were derived from hunting or tourism. We classified these benefits into 3 broad classes and examined how benefits flowed to stakeholders within communities under the status quo and under a simulated ban on hunting. Across all conservancies, total benefits from hunting and tourism increased at roughly the same rate, although conservancies typically started generating benefits from hunting within 3 years of formation as opposed to after 6 years for tourism. Disaggregation of data revealed that the main benefits from hunting were income for conservancy management and food in the form of meat for the community at large. The majority of tourism benefits were salaried jobs at lodges. A simulated ban on trophy hunting significantly reduced the number of conservancies that could cover their operating costs, whereas eliminating income from tourism did not have as severe an effect. Given that the benefits generated from hunting and tourism typically begin at different times in a conservancy's life-span (earlier vs. later, respectively) and flow to different segments of local communities, these 2 activities together may provide the greatest incentives for conservation on communal lands in Namibia. A singular focus on either hunting or tourism would reduce the value of wildlife as a competitive land-use option and have grave repercussions for the viability of community-based conservation efforts in Namibia, and possibly other parts of Africa.

Keywords: accionistas; beneficios de pago en especie; beneficios financieros; communal lands; community-based conservation; conservación basada en la comunidad; financial benefits; hunting ban; in-kind benefits; prohibición de la caza; stakeholders; tierras comunales.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Motivation
  • Namibia