Exploring communication of the elephant management plan of South African National Parks.
Moore, Kevin Thomas Burden.
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The complexity associated with elephant management within the South African context makes communication of management decisions a difficult undertaking. People construct mental models based on their ideas and understanding which form the bases of the perceptions of their worlds and are the constructs of mental models. An understanding of these mental models is necessary in order for a common focus to be created so that attitudes might be influenced. What is required is a means in which the maintenance of biodiversity could form a component of people’s (or groups of people’s) mental constructs. A recommendation by the Department of Environmental Affairs was that an Elephant Management Communication Plan should be established to facilitate clear channels of communication between the South African National Parks and its respective stakeholders. Thus, the main research question was: How effective is the Elephant Management Communication Plan likely to be in raising awareness amongst all relevant stakeholders about how elephants are managed in National Parks in South Africa? To answer this, the research critically analyses the Communication Plan Formulation Process through qualitative research methodology. The research concluded that the scope of what is required of the Communication Plan Formulation Process needs to take cognisance of changing environments, perceptions and paradigms on elephant management which would involve an overhaul of the communication strategies within SANParks and between SANParks and its stakeholders. In addition, the elephant issue will need to be viewed as a component of a broader system which includes stakeholders and will need to be communicated as such.