Institutions to govern wildlife in the developing regions of KwaZulu-Natal.
Wynne, Adrian Theodor.
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In practice, property rights to wild flora and fauna are determined by de facto property rights to the land on which they are found. However, access to wildlife may become open regardless of land tenure due to the growing demands of expanding rural populations living at subsistence levels. This precarious outcome is more likely in areas where land is "communal". Traditional common property user groups are unstable because transaction costs become inhibitory in large groups. Non-user groups with small management teams (eg. companies and trusts) are better equipped to devise and enforce rules restricting access to communal resources. Three community-based organisations (CBO's) from KwaZulu-Natal are described, viz. Dukuduku Forest, Shongweni Resources Reserve and the Thukela Biosphere Reserve. Support for conservation rules appears to be strongest amongst communities at the Shongweni Resources Reserve where: community management organisations are formal institutions with legally binding constitutions; community representatives are broadly accepted and share decision-making power with the resource owner, and; community members get direct benefits from the Reserve. However, in all three cases change was prompted by agents who stood to lose substantially when neighbouring communities invaded or poached resources on their land. This is an important finding as it suggests a need for outside intervention in communal areas where common property institutions have collapsed and natural resources are being over-utilised. The case studies are analyzed and compared using criteria suggested by the theory of Institutional Economics to determine why some CBO's are more successful than others. It is concluded that individuals have an incentive to abide by rules if they are assured of receiving benefits in return for their compliance. Creating appropriate management institutions is a necessary first step, but it may also be necessary to subsidise their development programmes and support local enforcement owing to the high cost of protecting and instituting conservancies for commercial purposes.
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