Conserving in the face of Global Change
Andy Blackmore – Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Arie Trouwborst – Tilburg University
Climate change will increasingly impact species and habitat composition of protected areas – even if precise impacts are difficult to predict, especially in smaller areas. This raises questions for management authorities but also regarding wildlife that ‘escape’ and cause damage. The decision framework used to introduce damage-causing animals in protected areas is complex and is explored in this paper with reference to the introduction of African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) into a protected area. The behaviour of wild dogs may be particularly suitable as a surrogate to provide insights into the legal challenges that are likely to arise when other damage-causing animals start responding to climate change by venturing beyond protected area boundaries. Here, the introduction of wild dogs into South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park may be unpacked to understand the relationship between neighbouring rural communities, the tourism industry and the park’s management authority. The protected area is traditionally the sole fiducial concern of the management authority, but the introduction of charismatic and potentially damage-causing wildlife includes an overlapping vested interest of the tourism industry and the neighbouring rural communities. As climate change manifests this complex relationship between the three role-players, is likely to become strained with the increased frequency of escaping carnivores – as they attempt to move out of or expand their home ranges beyond the boundaries of the protected area. It is concluded that a laissez-faire approach to climate change by protected area managers is likely to be problematic particularly with respect to relationships with neighbouring rural communities. It is concluded that (1) a greater awareness of climate change impacts by all role-players is required, including conservation agencies, the tourism industry and neighbouring rural communities; and (2) managing escaped wildlife should become a joint and contractual responsibility of these role-players.