The Legal Challenges of Transboundary Wildlife Management at the Population Level: The Case of a Trilateral Elephant Population in Southern Africa
50 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2017
Date Written: May 11, 2016
More than 80% of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) range in Africa still exists outside of formal protected areas, and sits across many administrative and political boundaries. These ranges comprise a matrix of multi-use landscapes of potentially divergent administrative, legal and political systems. It is further recognised that the evolution of the various human focused administrative systems, from an elephant conservation perspective, has been ad hoc and without integration. This has resulted in or facilitated a progressive encroachment on the natural range by human settlement and agricultural activities. The movement of elephant across international boundaries results in a parochial approach to their management, particularly within a context of increasing human-wildlife conflict, and an inconsistent consideration of ecological requirements of the elephant at a trans-boundary level, leading to a mismanagement of these populations, at a trans-boundary level. This study investigates the conservation and management of the Central Limpopo River Valley (CLRV) elephant population roaming between Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and utilizing the trilateral Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA). The desirability of conserving and managing wildlife at the level of the biological unit of the trans-boundary population is taken as a starting-point, following insights from trans-boundary large carnivore and waterbird species in Europe. The many legal and policy frameworks applicable to the CLRV elephant population are identified and tested against this approach. The current approach taken in respect of the CRLV elephant population meets the benchmark to a substantial degree, although some essential steps remain to be taken. We discuss potential adjustments to laws and policies that are required to ensure the ecological stability of trans-boundary elephant populations, and to provide for their collective management.
Keywords: Biodiversity, African elephant, Large carnivores, Wildlife, International law, multilateral agreements, Africa, conservation
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