Climate Change Impacts on Protected Area Boundaries: A Speculative Analysis Using African Wild Dogs as a Case Study

Dr Andrew Blackmore, A/Prof Arie Trouwborst

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 not only regarding ecological protected area integrity, but also regarding damage-causing wildlife. The latter’s complexity is highlighted by the decision to introduce African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) in the Tembe Elephant Park located in South Africa on the southern Mozambique border.

Climate change is likely to exacerbate wild dogs’ propensity to wander beyond protected area boundaries, including fenced ones. Moreover, the behaviour of wild dogs may be used 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. In this paper we draw on the experience gained from South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park’s wild dog introduction, unpacking the interaction between neighbouring rural communities, tourism industry and the park’s management authority. The protected area is traditionally the sole fiducial concern of the management authority, but the introduction and keeping 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 at the protected area level, 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 the protected area.

It is concluded that a laissez-faire approach to climate change by protected area managers is likely to be problematic both in terms of protected area security and relationships with neighbouring rural communities. Instead, (1) greater awareness of climate change impacts by all role-players is required, including conservation agencies, tourism industry and neighbouring rural communities; (2) managing wildlife breakouts should become a joint and contractual responsibility of these role-players; and (3) there are clear potential roles for neighbouring communities and tourism industry in the establishment and maintenance of wildlife corridors beyond park boundaries, which could be augmented through easements and other incentives provided by conservation agencies.

Biography: To be confirmed

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