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Abstract

Lions have undergone a reduction of approximately 43% in the last 21 years. On a continental scale, elephants have declined at 8% per annum, and giraffe populations have declined approximately 36 to 40% over three generations. Even though all African range states are in agreement on the ultimate goal, the current debate on how to achieve this, especially when it comes to high-value charismatic species, is extremely polarised, particularly when discussing the inclusion of consumptive use as a conservation tool. In addition, population trends on a regional level for these species are very different. Across the continent, different wildlife management models, and combinations thereof, are used to conserve and manage charismatic species. However, in complex socio-ecological systems, it is imperative that people are at the forefront, and that species, especially those that have a direct impact on people and their livelihoods, have a tangible contribution to human wellbeing. In this presentation, we will explore the different management models used across the continent, the benefits and risks of the various models, and how these models have evolved over time. We evaluate how these models have contributed to species conservation by looking at percentage area under protection, species trends, as well as the resilience of the system to social and ecological changes. Despite the fact that differences in conservation philosophy and management are always highlighted, there are more commonalities than differences between the various approaches across the continent. For conservation to be successful across the continent, a unified African goal is required, in which differences in philosophy and management are recognised and accepted, and that the more diverse and adaptive our management strategies are, and the more our efforts are focussed on positive human outcomes, the more likely we are to achieve positive conservation outcomes across the continent.

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