The costs of elephant crop depredation exceed the benefits of trophy hunting in a community-based conservation area of Namibia

Authors: Michael Drake*, CU Boulder, Jonathan Salerno , Colorado State University, Ryan E Langendorf, University of Colorado Boulder, Lin Cassidy, Okavango Research Institute, Andrea E Gaughan, University of Louisville, Forrest R Stevens, University of Louisville, Narcisa G Pricope, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Joel Hartter, University of Colorado Boulder
Topics: Africa, Animal Geographies, Economic Geography
Keywords: human-wildlife conflict, elephant conservation, environmental economics, food security, southern Africa, trophy hunting, wildlife management
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Kazavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is home to the largest remaining elephant population in Africa but is also the site of high levels of human-elephant conflict through crop depredation. Offsetting the costs of coexisting with elephants in this area is critical to incentivizing elephant conservation within community-based conservation (CBC) areas, and trophy hunting has long been touted as a method for generating revenue for communities from wildlife. However, the idea that sustainable elephant hunting can offset the costs of crop depredation remains largely untested. We combined household survey data, financial records, and elephant population data to compare the potential benefits of sustainable hunting with the costs of crop depredation in a CBC area in northeastern Namibia. We determined that sustainable trophy hunting only returns ~30% of the value of crops lost to the community and cannot alone offset the current costs of coexistence with elephants. As core institutions supporting the practice of conservation, CBC efforts must promote community management capacity to combine multiple wildlife-based income streams and build partnerships at multiple scales of governance to address the challenges of elephant management.

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