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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 80-90

The value of avitourism for conservation and job creation-An analysis from South Africa


1 Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa; The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia
2 Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa; Environmental Economics Policy Research Unit, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
3 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, George, South Africa
4 School of Tourism and Hospitality, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Duan Biggs
Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa; The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.79198

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Tourism directed at bird watching (avitourism) has become increasingly popular. In many lower and middle-income countries, including South Africa, avitourism is being applied in an effort to simultaneously achieve community development and biodiversity conservation. This paper presents the results of an exploratory investigation of 11 community-based avitourism projects in South Africa. Conservation benefits were measured with the Threat Reduction Assessment tool. We calculated the Gamma (G) correlation coefficient to explore the relationship between conservation and income benefits and project characteristics. The projects were successful at reducing threats to sites where conservation was an explicit objective (n=11, G=0.609, P=0.03). The level of income benefits did not correlate with success in reducing threats to conservation. Once involved in avitourism projects, the average monthly income earned by local bird guides increased from USD 114 to USD 362. The extent of income benefits was positively related to the extent of support to projects (n=10, G=0.714, P=0.01). Participants in the projects reported substantive capacity building and empowerment benefits. Success in delivering conservation, income and empowerment benefits was challenged by the local guide's limited previous exposure to tourism and business, the guide's lack of self assurance, cultural differences, and a requirement for sustained mentorship and support to overcome these barriers. We conclude that with adequate long-term support, avitourism projects can be a cost-effective way to create jobs and deliver conservation and human development benefits.


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