An Approach to Evaluate the Effect of Property Size on Land-Use Options in Semi-Arid Rangelands
It is claimed that high returns can be achieved from hunting and ecotourism operations. As a result wildlife production is a rapidly growing form of land-use in South Africa. Lately, rural African communities have approached regional conservation agencies for aid to establish small game reserves so that they too may benefit from wildlife production. However, wildlife operations have high input costs relative to domestic stock operations and no attempt has been made to determine the effect of property size on the costs and revenue generated by wildlife. This paper attempts to develop a method for identifying the relevant economic variables of wildlife production, subsistence production and commercial beef production and the revenues that these separate land-uses generate. Thence to observe their relationship with property size by means of an illustrative example. In this way the size ranges for which each of the three land-uses is most appropriate can be determined. Finally, the method is evaluated against the results of the example to identify future refinement. The results of this example indicate that the profit curve of wildlife rises far more steeply than those of either subsistence production or commercial beef production. However, due to the effect of high input costs associated with wildlife, both commercial and subsistence beef production are more profitable at small land sizes. This indicates that investing large sums of money into small game reserves of the order of 3000 ha or less may not be justified on the basis of profits alone.