An economic and institutional analysis of community wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis focuses on the economics and institutional aspects of community wildlife conservation in the context of local communities living adjacent to the Gonarezhou NationalPark in Zimbabwe. A significant proportion of wildlife in Zimbabwe, and in Southern Africa in general, is managed as a common pool resource by communities under community-based natural resource management. Several challenges threaten conservation efforts at both local and higher levels, thus hindering its ability to bring about development that might improve the welfare of poor rural communities participating in wildlife conservation. The most pressing issues in the wildlife sector include: inability to extract resource rents from wildlife conservation that in turn affect household welfare in terms of total household income and reduction in poverty and inequality, lack of capacity by local communities to solve collective action problems or lack of incentives to self-organise, and lack of comparable successful outcomes in CBNRM communities such as the wildlife conservancy communities. Learning from other successful communities that use community-based' models, such as wildlife conservancies, might provide important insights for policy makers and development practitioners. These issues are explored in three substantial papers included in this thesis. The thesis consists of five chapters starting with an introduction, followed by three papers and finally conclusions and policy implications. The study makes use of purpose-collected primary data from local communities living adjacent to Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. The first paper investigates the effects of wildlife resources on community welfare. Specifically, the paper examines the contribution of environmental income to) total household income,) poverty reduction, and) reduction in income inequality. Furthermore, it investigates the impact of environmental income on households in different income categories, the role of wildlife in the portfolio of environmental income and the determinants of environmental income generated by different households. To achieve the objectives above, the paper makes use of income quintile analysis, the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke poverty measure, Gini coefficient analysis, Ginidecomposition analysis, ordered logit regression model and instrumental variables estimation using heteroscedasticity-based instruments. The results show that the relative contribution of environmental income towards total household income is more pronounced in poor households, while the relative contribution of agricultural income is noticeable in wealthier households. In particular, wealthier households consumed more wildlife products in total than relatively poor households. However, poorer households derive greater benefit from the consumption of wildlife resources than wealthier households. Excluding wildlife compromised the relative contribution of environmental income and, at the same time, increased the relative contribution of farm and wage income. Environmental income has more impact in terms of poverty and inequality reduction in the lower income quintiles than in the upper quintiles. Wildlife income alone accounted for about 5.5% reduction in the proportion of households living below the poverty line. Furthermore, wildlife income had an equalizing effect, bringing about a 5.4% reduction in measured inequality.

Includes bibliographical references