NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 10, 2004

The United States could take a lesson from Africa in preserving wildlife and habitats, says the Property and Environment Research Center. While there are many areas in which property rights are not enforced, African countries, especially the southern ones -- have enforced strong private property rights when it comes to wildlife and their habitats. As a result, a variety of species abound for hunting and ecotourism.

Normally, eco-tourism ventures and hunting are of little benefit to the lives of villagers if the land is owned by the government; they have no financial incentive to preserve the land and maintain wildlife habitats.

Private land ventures, however, enable villagers to gain knowledge, responsibility and financial benefits to help better their lives. According to researchers at PERC:

  • In South Africa, private land is "game-fenced," by 10-foot high fences, and the animals within the fence become the property of the landowner; landowners then have an incentive to manage their wildlife for hunting and tourism revenues.
  • In Tanzania, the Ololosokwan Village earns from $5,000 to over $50,000 in tourism annually by allowing photographic ventures on their private land.

It's a win-win situation, say analysts: wildlife is preserved, villages receive revenues to pay for basic needs, and the government receives a portion of the revenues as well.

Sources: Terry L. Anderson, "My Love Affair with Africa: Passion and Property Rights," and Elizabeth Singleton, "Overcoming Government Obstacles: Some Tanzanian Communities Manage Wildlife," Property and Environment Research Center Reports 22, no. 2, June 2004.

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