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Who owns the animals? The implications for sustainable wildlife tourism

Moore, S.A. (2006) Who owns the animals? The implications for sustainable wildlife tourism. In: 2nd National Wildlife Tourism Conference 2006, 13 - 15 August, Fremantle


Wildlife in Australia and elsewhere often freely move across the landscape. How they are managed depends on who owns the lands, waters and even skies that the wildlife traverses and the places they then occupy for periods of time. Ownership becomes more important when the wildlife have economic value for uses such as tourism and instrumental uses as food and other similarly basic needs. It becomes more critical when the wildlife are vulnerable and have special management needs for which some one has to bear the costs and there are assumed benefits in return.

This paper uses the concept of common-pool resources to describe these issues with regard to wildlife tourism and its sustainable management. Common-pool resources are those where it is often difficult and costly to exclude uninvited or unwanted users while exploitation by one user can reduce the availability of the resource to others. Examples include air, water resources, grazing pastures, irrigation systems, and fisheries. Such resources are potentially vulnerable to over-use as well as little incentive existing for individuals to manage the resource sustainably.

Innovative policy instruments have been used to successfully manage these other more widely-known and understood common-pool resources. A limited number have also been applied to wildlife tourism. This paper highlights instruments from both sources and uses examples from the whale-shark industry and sea lion viewing off the west coast of Australia, and wildlife tours in Kakadu National Park in northern Australia, to illustrate the possibilities such instruments can create for policy innovation and sustainability.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Conference Website:
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