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Publisher: ZSL, London
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: G, H, QL
The ‘Big Five’ charismatic megafauna concept is considered key for financial competitiveness of protected areas in South Africa. However, this Western colonial concept is also leading to an underappreciation of wider biodiversity and the recovery of other endangered species. This study assessed the heterogeneity of tourist preferences for big game species in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, using a choice experiment approach, employing latent class modelling, in order to identify tourists' segments not necessarily drawn to the Big Five. The latent class segmentation identified two segments for both international and national tourists, largely defined by socio-economic characteristics. Less experienced and wealthier tourists were mostly interested in charismatic megafauna, while more experienced, but lower income tourists showed preferences for a broader range of species. Exploring viewing preferences in this way illustrates the potential to realign conservation businesses to achieve biodiversity conservation objectives. In the short term, managing protected areas for the Big Five and other favourite species will continue to deliver significant financial benefits to local stakeholders, but policy makers should consider using financial mechanisms to subsidize conservation actions for less charismatic species and develop the biodiversity base of safari tourism in South Africa.
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