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Pastoral populations and rangelands


Worldwide, the economic importance of rangelands varies significantly according to the socio-economic system in which they are embedded. In developed economies, such as Australia and the United States, rangelands are essentially marginal terrain suitable for low-intensity stock rearing and hunting. In pluralistic economies, such as Brazil, high-density vegetation such as rain forest, which is of crucial importance to hunter-gatherers and smallholder farmers, can all too easily be converted to low-fertility savannah, which is of interest to wealthy ranchers. In Africa and Central Asia, rangelands are essential to the subsistence of pastoralists, foragers and farmers who are dependent on rainfed crops. These are generally the most vulnerable groups in the region, both because they depend on a variable climate to support a necessarily patchy resource and because tenurial regimes tend to be more ambiguous in regions where they are often regarded as a common property resource. As a consequence, there is competition for access to rangelands. In developed economies, rangelands are given over to low-intensity grazing or protected areas. The conflicts that arise – such as governments’ desire to increase the area of national parks or assert claims for mineral rights, and protected species’ predation on livestock – are relatively minor and easily settled. However, in South America, where rangeland can be created at the expense of the forest occupants’ livelihoods, conflict has been prolonged and violent. The principal means of habitat conversion, burning, is irreversible. Once cleared, neotropical rain forest takes centuries to regenerate.

In Sahelian Africa, India and West-Central Asia, competition for rangelands is intense but, by and large, it is not usually a case of the wealthy and powerful versus the poor and dispossessed. Increasing population pressure is tending to push arable farming into more and more marginal areas, especially since the introduction of modern transport and low-cost irrigation techniques. This, in turn, places further pressure on pastoralists and foragers, and thus on rangeland vegetation. Although there have been serious doubts about the long-term impact of overgrazing, and more emphasis laid on the resilience of rangelands, continuing intensive pressure implies poor producers of biomass for both livestock and wildlife.

The consequence is very often that the poorest groups compete with one another for a limited resource. Across semi-arid Africa, and in parts of India, conflict between expanding farmers and pastoralists is an everyday occurrence; the numbers and political power of the farmers, as well as the existence of tenure regimes that are more supportive of agriculture than livestock, ensure that the farmers are generally dominant. At the same time, foragers and livestock producers may come into conflict, especially in Southern Africa. The consequence is often to drive pastoralists into zones so arid that farmers cannot follow them, and this places more pressure on these fragile environments, thereby exposing the herders to greater risks of climatic uncertainty.

Foragers and pastoralists often live in overlapping territories, especially in Africa and Siberia. Prior to the twentieth century, land competition was not of major significance and the two interlocking subsistence strategies could, effectively, coexist. However, as human population densities increase and pastoral habitats are converted, pastoralists are under pressure to define their territories. In Siberia, the system of managing wild reindeer was transformed under the Soviet regime into a system of herding within bounded and fenced territories, thereby excluding such hunting peoples as the Nenets. In Botswana and Namibia, cattle keepers such as the Kgalagadi, the Herero and the Ovimbundu faced exclusion from white-owned, fenced ranches and have been pushed into further incursions on the hunting territories of the Khoisan. The Hadza hunter-gatherers of the northern United Republic of Tanzania have seen their traditional hunting territories increasingly eroded by pastoralists who have more access and influence at the administration level. At the same time, the establishment of game fences, which are intended to exclude migratory herds of wild animals and keep livestock disease-free, reduced the ability of hunters to follow game, especially across national boundaries.

When faced with pressure from outside forces to cease hunting, foragers often become pastoralists or start to work with livestock. The Navajo turned to sheep herding, and native Australians frequently work as stockmen. At the time of the first contact with Europeans, the Khoikhoi of Southern Africa were partly herders but also engaged in extensive foraging. The impact of European settlement was grim, and one of the few locations where Khoikhoi society survived, albeit in an altered form, was Namaqualand, the arid region in the extreme northwest of South Africa and adjacent Namibia. Reserves were created and managed on a communal tenure system. However, in the early 1970s, a new proposal was made to create the Richtersveld National Park, effectively sequestrating 80 000 ha from the Nama (Boonzaier et al., 1996). This reflected the extreme political marginalization of the Nama as much as it did protection of the region’s minimal wildlife resources. However, in a reversal of the usual course of events, advocacy groups joined with the Nama to protest against the proposed exclusion. The effect was to halt the park’s creation until the end of the 1980s, when grazing and foraging rights were conceded (as was compensation for their loss) and employment as rangers was offered to Nama.

Hunting and tourism in these regions are of variable importance. The rangelands of West-Central Africa, for example, are virtually devoid of large herbivores and have infrastructure that is so unattractive as to make hunting and tourism insignificant. In East and Southern Africa, however, wildlife constitutes a significant element of national income, notably in Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The system of national parks and highly organized infrastructure means that the greatest proportion of income accrues directly to the State, rather than to nearby communities. As a result, poaching is rife and an adversarial relationship between park authorities and villagers is the norm. Although revenue-sharing systems have been put in place in some areas and heavily promoted by aid and development agencies, their contribution to livelihoods in these regions remains extremely small.

Box 4. Overgrazing in Africa’s high-altitude grasslands

The Mambila Plateau in southeast Nigeria is a typical high-altitude grassland of Adamawa. It was first colonized by Ful°e pastoralists in the 1890s in the immediate precolonial era (Blench, 1991a). After that, waves of herds appeared from all parts of West Africa, until by the 1930s colonial officers began to complain that overstocking would lead to environmental degradation. These complaints were followed by a series of reports on the management of the plateau. None of the recommendations had any effect on policy and, by the time of the first aerial survey of numbers in 1984, the cattle population was in the region of 400 000. The signs of degradation were beginning to be highly visible, but numbers continued to increase during the 1980s until a second survey, in 1990, estimated that there were some 600 000 cattle. A decade later, in 1999, numbers had undergone a major crash and the ubiquitous bracken and tussocks of inedible grass suggest that ecological collapse has finally driven away the vast herds. High-altitude grasslands are not resilient in the same way as Sahelian rangelands because they do not have a history of responding to climatic variability and have not co-evolved with a limited range of herbivores. In this way, overgrazing can occur and a potentially rich resource that might be managed sustainably becomes a barren wasteland.


Pastoralists have not historically been perceived as having a good relation with the environment. Accused of overgrazing and desertification, more recently they have been seen as responsible for methane emissions and low feed conversion rates. Some of these arguments have little technical validity, but this does not stop their use at donor conferences. The most important arguments revolve around overgrazing, land degradation and the alternative use of rangeland to sustain a broader range of biodiversity.

Pastoralism may have begun in Africa as early as 7000 BC, and its major impact was probably felt by about 3000 BC in both East and West Africa. Cattle and sheep did not reach the rangelands of Southern Africa until about 300 AD. The widespread presence of tsetse would have constituted a major constraint to livestock in many regions, at least until trypanotolerant breeds were developed. Destroying tsetse habitat in woody vegetation and gallery forest would have provided an additional incentive for pastoralists to burn off forest cover. The twentieth century brought trypanocides and enhanced veterinary care and eliminated much tsetse habitat, providing an incentive to increase herd sizes and, thus, grazing pressure substantially (Blench, 1995b). This led to the growth of a large and often problematic literature on range degradation and overgrazing.

Other literature has focused on range degradation and vegetation change caused by overgrazing or climatic variability (Adams, 1996; Behnke, 1994; Dougill and Cox, 1995; Behnke and Abel, 1996a, 1996b, 1996c; Blench and Marriage, 1999). Heavy grazing changes the composition of the vegetation (Hiernaux, 1996); the density of palatable perennial species falls as they are replaced by less palatable ones, because their competitive ability declines.

Another consequence of heavy grazing can be the spread of woody vegetation and the eradication of grassy areas (Arntzen, 1990). In his discussion of the Kalahari in Botswana, Adams (1996: 6) reports that in “low tree and shrub savannah” the combination of heavy grazing and the absence of hot grass fires causes the spread of dense, woody vegetation (bush encroachment). The spread of pure and persistent stands of species, such as blackthorn, means long-lasting and irreversible decline in species diversity (De Queiroz, 1993a, 1993b; Dougill and Cox, 1995). This kind of bush encroachment leads to a decline in the productivity of grazing for both cattle and goats, as well as for wild herbivores. Adams points out that bush encroachment in the Kalahari is distinct from other forms of vegetation change, in terms of both its persistence and its exclusion of other species.

Box 5. Keeping Chukchi reindeer herds in check

The Chukchi people herd reindeer throughout much of Siberia, east of the Kolyma river. Because of the importance of matching herd sizes with moss resources, they have developed a number of mechanisms for controlling herd size, which is somewhat unusual among pastoral societies. Herds are regularly split among family members, and the new herds take off for pastures elsewhere. Assistants, i.e. hired herders, are paid with stock and can often gather enough animals to form the nucleus of their own herds. Herd capture, the intentional mixing of a small herd with a large one, and the consequent disappearance of some animals from the large herd are tolerated. However, the Chukchi kill pregnant does in order to prevent them from reproducing. At the annual sacrifices, when male fawns and bucks are killed, each must be accompanied by a “wife”, thereby removing further females from the system.

Source: Bogoras, 1904-1909; Leeds, 1965.

As well as its semi-arid and subhumid savannahs, Africa also has a smaller number of high-altitude grasslands. The Ethiopian plateau constitutes the most extended area of grassland, but the highlands of Uganda and Rwanda represent a similar ecology. In West Africa, the Fouta Djalon in Guinea and the Adamawa grasslands in Cameroon and Nigeria are comparable grasslands. Unlike the Sahel, the West African grasslands have historically had relatively low grazing pressure from wild herbivores, and none from domestic animals, because the foothills around these plateaux are humid forest which, until recently, acted to exclude cattle. The colonization of these grasslands by pastoralists took place in the mid- to late nineteenth century, when population expansion cleared sufficient areas of tsetse to make it possible to utilize the grasslands without having to face unacceptable levels of mortality from trypanosomiasis. These areas represented almost ideal conditions for pastoralists, with lush grass, little competition from farmers and reduced disease problems. As a result, cattle herds came in increasing numbers, gradually changing the pattern of vegetation until it became almost unusable as a habitat for livestock (Blench, 1998b). The Mambila plateau in southeast Nigeria represents a good case history of this type of cycle (Box 4).

In silvopastoral systems, notably the reindeer-based systems of Siberia, the potential for overgrazing of mosses and lichens is very real and has been recognized by herders. Moreover, the speed at which reindeer can reproduce means that, without epizootics and blizzards, they can soon strip their habitat. As a consequence, herders such as the Chukchi have developed culturally sanctioned systems of destocking (Box 5).

Official attempts to encourage pastoralists to destock and substitute quality for quantity have not been particularly successful. Indeed, in all non-authoritarian regimes they have been a complete failure. The reasons for this have been much debated. The traditional view derives from the cattle complex concept first mooted by Herskovitz (1926), which holds that pastoralists view their livestock, especially cattle, as part of a ritual and prestige nexus, and not as a market enterprise; reducing herd numbers would therefore be equivalent to moving down the social ladder. The alternative view, that pastoralists are keyed into the market but also have elaborate risk-aversion strategies responding to uncertain disease and climatic regimes, gained considerable ground from the 1960s onwards. According to this view, it is rational for each individual herder to keep a maximum number of animals as insurance against epizootics or drought; the more animals there are to start with, the more will be left after a disaster.

Box 6. Persuading the Navajo to sell

A dispute between the Hopi and the Navajo over the management of their shared territory goes back as far as 1882. In 1974, a programme of stock reduction was initiated, so that land could be demarcated and range management undertaken. To this end, a large-scale purchase programme was started, with stock being bought from owners at 150 percent of market prices. This was combined with threats to impound livestock once the voluntary period ceased. Poverty and unemployment in the region meant that many herders sold a large part of their stock. However, the consequence was that herds were then unviable, since there was no immediate impact of range and infrastructure improvement. This created a cycle of further sales, household breakdown and increased nutritional problems, as well as conflict with the authorities for those who tried to outmanoeuvre the system. The eventual result was exacerbation of the problem that the programme was intended to solve.

Source: Wood, 1985.

Various political systems have been unwilling to tolerate this laissez-faire situation and have enforced limits on herd sizes based on range scientists’ determinations of carrying capacity. Israel, for example, compels Bedouin herders in the Negev to sell any surplus animals beyond a fixed herd size. Command economies such as the former Soviet Union and Algeria controlled herd size and composition through powerful local institutions. The United States, trying to prevent overgrazing in the Hopi-Navajo region, introduced a herd reduction programme (Box 6).

Pastoralists do not usually manage pastures, and generally do not plant them. Attempts to encourage the planting of pastures, such as through fodder banks, have not met with significant success.

Artificial water sources are now widespread in many arid and semi-arid rangelands. For example, in pastoral areas of Australia there is at least one artificial water point every 10 km (Bennet, 1997: 11). Originally, establishing closely spaced water sources was intended to avoid the localized degradation that follows the concentration of many animals at few sites. Creating this dense network induced similar grazing patterns over large areas. The impact on biodiversity was negative because native species in Australia’s arid and semi-arid rangelands are adapted to very light or no grazing pressure. Once biodiversity becomes a consideration, management should promote grazing patterns that are spatially heterogeneous rather than uniform. Fencing tends to be expensive over extensive areas, whereas water is a powerful and cheap tool for this purpose. If artificial water points were to be shut down in areas with a high conservation priority, grazing pressure would be reduced. Obviously, such a strategy is only applicable where artificial water sources are numerous and would not apply in Africa or much of South America.


Until recently, pastoralists were to a certain extent protected by the remoteness of their habitat; its inaccessibility meant that it was written off by national governments. However, the evolution of modern transport and remote sensing has changed this equation dramatically. Remote drylands, mountains and tundra are often the sites of valuable mineral deposits, and new telemetric devices make it possible to detect their presence. Similarly, the rise of the conservation lobby, and the fact that in remote areas terrestrial fauna is likely to be better preserved, has created accelerating pressure to declare wildlife or biodiversity reserves, thereby taking land out of the pastoral orbit.

Pastoralists and the exploitation of mineral resources

Although mineral and oil extraction in the developed world is frequently the subject of controversy, the presence of regulatory frameworks and highly developed advocacy groups ensures public debate and, eventually, pressure to adopt sustainable and environmentally sound practice. This is very much less the case in the developing world, partly because of the relative economic importance of mineral revenues, and the consequence is that governments are generally not keen to publicize details of either potential income or environmental impact.

Most developing countries have weak communications and transport infrastructure, and the low populations in arid and semi-arid zones tend to make the opportunity cost of developing these relatively high. Mining and oil enterprises therefore set up highly sophisticated telecommunication and logistics supply systems that are independent of local structures. These are effective within the limited context of extraction, but their isolation from the national system can be problematic in the case of community awareness programmes, or indeed disasters. Poor communications and weak community-based organizations (CBOs) in arid and northern semi-arid zones mean that governments are rarely called to account for deficiencies in the monitoring of mineral extraction enterprises. The importance of mineral revenues is such that governments often have no regulatory framework in place, or else do not enforce one that has been enacted.

This is most evident in the former command economies, where anxieties over the declining economy have pressured governments to increase mineral extraction rates. Vitebsky (1990) discusses the impact on reindeer herders of the gas deposits in the Yamal peninsula of the former Soviet Arctic, and similar problems have arisen in relation to oil extraction in Siberia, for example among the Khanty of the Pim River (Stewart, 1994/5). Reindeer is the principal pastoral species affected by escaping radiation. After the Chernobyl incident of 1986, reindeer and caribou all across the circumpolar regions accumulated such high levels of radioactivity in their tissues that their meat was unsaleable on the world market. This led to increased hardship for pastoral peoples across the region, especially as no compensation was forthcoming. In addition, much unsafe meat was probably consumed locally and health issues relating to Chernobyl will continue to be of concern for many years to come.

Wildlife and conservation issues

The marginal lands that were previously the province of pastoralists are increasingly coming into focus as reserves of biodiversity. Their very inaccessibility has permitted the survival of species, especially macrofauna, that have been eliminated from high-density agricultural areas. Consequently, there is pressure on governments to declare increasingly large regions as reserved areas, because of both the conservation lobby and the potential income from tourism (Bourn and Blench, 1999). This has probably gone furthest in East Africa, where large mammals are still abundant and the tourist industry is highly developed.

The immediate consequence is conflict among pastoralists, government and conservation lobbies. Uncertainties about pastoral tenure have made it difficult for pastoralists to lodge effective land claims, and very often potential grazing land is simply appropriated. Pastoralists then enter conservation areas which they consider traditional grazing areas and encounter game or forest guards, with predictable results. In marked contrast to the high values placed on wildlife and wilderness in the affluent North, rural communities in rangeland areas have a long-standing and deep-rooted antipathy towards potentially dangerous and destructive wild animals (KWS, 1996; Western, 1997).

Two opposing views have evolved in response to this: either it is correct to assign a high priority to wildlife, because of the income from tourism and the global importance of the conservation of biodiversity; or pastoralists have rights that should be protected. A widespread position is that pressure for establishing reserved areas is strong and well funded, and it would be better to make agreements with both pastoralists and villagers to compensate them for their loss of access to resources, through revenue sharing. Such agreements with villagers have been extensively tested in Zimbabwe through the CAMPFIRE programme,5 but developing similar programmes with occupationally specialized pastoralists is altogether more difficult and, although this is in development in East Africa, there are no clear examples of success. Establishing pastoral access rights in a fluid land use situation is problematic and a source of disputes. Similarly, the lack of central organization makes effective revenue sharing more complex and open to manipulation.

The livelihoods of pastoralists and agropastoralists in the semi-arid rangelands of sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to drought, epidemics and loss of access to key natural resources. New perceptions of rangeland dynamics and the emergence of more community-oriented conservation philosophies have focused attention on the potential benefits of livestock and wildlife coexistence. Integrated management is an approach that can reduce vulnerability, enhance food security and mitigate the negative impacts of wildlife on the livelihoods of pastoralists and agropastoralists.

Interactions between pastoralists and wildlife occur on many levels. The nature and intensity of these interactions evolve in response to changes in land use and availability. The general trend in higher-rainfall areas is the intensification of livestock production, with smaller herds on smaller tracts of land leading a movement away from “pure” pastoralism towards agropastoralism (Holden, Ashley and Bazeley, 1997). This is as much the result of political intervention as of pastoralists’ attempts to avert risk within a diminishing resource base in a non-equilibrium environment by diversifying income sources. Pastoralists may thus be more willing to incorporate opportunities from wildlife into their livelihood strategies, especially through community-based natural resource management initiatives in areas that possess sufficient wildlife for sustainable use through consumptive and non-consumptive means.

Predation of livestock and humans is often cited as the major risk by pastoralists (and indeed non-pastoralists), particularly women, who live near wildlife – although it is argued that such perceptions are exaggerated (Infield, 1996). Damage to crops and infrastructure by wildlife is another key issue. Simple protective fencing is easily destroyed by such wildlife as elephants, buffaloes and zebra. In theory, both predation and infrastructural damage can be limited through improved physical protection. However, this is usually costly at the individual level, even though it may result in overall better health and performance of livestock.

In practice, wildlife’s potential to contribute to the sustainable rural livelihood strategies of pastoralists is constrained by many factors. Perceptions of the costs and benefits of wildlife, and the ability to limit or exploit them, vary according to such factors as national and international wildlife legislation, natural resource tenure, the type of pastoralists involved, the degree of community homogeneity, the quality of institutional management, and gender issues (Arhem, 1984; Child, 1995; Dalal-Clayton, 1989; Taylor, 1993; White, 1992).

Whatever ethical stance is taken, in management terms the present situation is unsatisfactory. Kenya is one of the few countries in which long-term monitoring of both wildlife and livestock populations allows the assessment of change over time. Table 11 shows the changes in these populations over a period of some 20 years.

Kenya rangeland livestock and wildlife population estimates: 1970s–1990s


1970s estimate

1970s SE

1990s estimate

1990s SE


Percentage (p = 0.9)



35 453

6 060

30 187

4 197

-5 266




551 462

24 636

651 254

33 209

99 792



Cattle (all)

3 319 749

157 958

2 911 496

88 333

-408 254




95 059

10 884

85 350

5 021

-9 710




25 755

3 376

19 123

1 242

-6 652




39 108

6 008

14 923

1 808

-24 185



Gazelle (Grant’s)

247 491

12 407

103 208

3 915

-144 283



Gazelle (Thomson’s)

87 086

14 766

31 259

-55 827





42 918

1 820

21 418

1 282

-21 500




62 255

2 808

50 080

2 337

-12 175



Greater kudu









116 177

8 930

67 934

3 194

-48 243




29 606

2 533

18 521

1 054

-11 085



Lesser kudu

17 468

1 214

7 751


-9 716




53 653

3 571

25 824

1 950

-27 829




25 716


33 871

2 798

-8 154




93 822

10 977

92 934

18 139




Sheep and goats

6 473 519

263 793

5 696 021

173 426

-777 498




12 309

1 476

5 260


-7 049




224 404

49 582

173 354

38 918

-51 050



Zebra (Burchell)

138 448

12 643

146 093

9 549

7 645



Zebra (Grevy)

10 364

1 355

4 868


-5 496



Total wildlife

1 262 227


846 652


-415 634



Total livestock

10 439 798


9 344 121


-1 095 600



Area includes Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Ktui, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir districts.

SE = standard error.

Sources: Government of Kenya, 1996; Bourn and Blench, 1999.

As Table 11 demonstrates, the only two species showing increases are camels and ostriches, both of which are characteristic of highly arid environments. In other words, even considerable growth in conservation areas has not slowed the overall decline of wildlife populations, and the pressure on rangelands exerted by cattle, sheep and goats has also led to a fall in their numbers.

Although wildlife constrains land use for pastoralists, the concept of integrating wildlife into sustainable rural livelihood strategies holds considerable theoretical appeal for marginal semi-arid lands. These areas are less productive for rainfed agriculture and wildlife is better adapted to the semi-arid environment than is livestock, which is more dependent on water and susceptible to trypanosomiasis (Jansen, Bond and Child, 1992; Infield, 1996). The sustainable utilization of wildlife may therefore be the most effective way of exploiting Africa’s comparative advantage in this area and can also benefit pastoralists (Cumming, 1990). The sustainable coexistence of livestock and wildlife in the East African rangelands is a realistic goal, but only if de facto natural resource managers receive a net benefit from multispecies management, as opposed to other forms of land use.

In Central Asia, the situation is somewhat different since, until recently, all protected areas were reserved by decree and did not benefit from consultation with local populations. The paradoxical consequence was an almost unparalleled level of habitat conservation. The system of collective farms was also kept going with subsidized inputs, sometimes brought in at uneconomic costs. This had the effect of reducing pressure on the natural rangelands, as did the central control of animal numbers and the relatively high levels of offtake. Tourism remains a nascent industry, and any income from it is extremely volatile, reflecting the unstable politics of the region. However, the implosion of collective farms has resulted in the regeneration of pre-Soviet patterns of pastoralism and grazing, which are increasing pressure on the rangelands and bringing herders into potential conflict with the management of poorly resourced parks and protected areas. The lack of market infrastructure and the limited range of inputs mean that Central Asian pastoralists are generally much poorer and more vulnerable than those in Africa.

The other aspect of Central Asia is the tradition of shooting predators, notably wolves and snow leopards, which are regarded as conservation targets elsewhere. Wildlife organizations have recently begun operations to try and develop both alternative income-generation strategies and compensation schedules for communities in order to discourage them from killing snow leopards by accepting the cost of predation. It is too early to predict how well these strategies will work, but they depend on considerable external input. Ultimately, the cost of predation should be balanced by the revenues from conservation if community protection of species is to take root.

Commercial game ranching has grown out of livestock ranches established in the early colonial period, especially in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Most such ranches were established on an experimental basis rather than for strictly economic purposes. However, Winrock International (1992) argues that integrated wildlife-livestock production systems have the potential to make unique and important contributions to food production, employment and income-generation opportunities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Multispecies systems involving mainly game or mixed ranching, safari hunting and tourism are increasing on private and communally owned land in parts of eastern and southern Africa. In Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa, about 10 to 20 percent of commercial farmers are involved in game ranching.

The dual use of livestock and wildlife spreads the economic and financial risk associated with their management, as well as making more efficient use of forage in areas that are less suitable for livestock ranching. Depending on marketing arrangements, wildlife can generate greater wealth at lower economic and environmental costs than livestock and arable agriculture can, and can thus be a profitable rural sector (Kiss, 1990; Jansen, Bond and Child, 1992; Cumming and Bond, 1993; Game Ranching Ltd, 1995).

Financial and economic efficiency is related to the absence of competition from other types of land use. In Zimbabwe, better returns on investment are found in Natural Region V (where rainfall is lowest) than in Natural Regions III and IV (Jansen, Bond and Child, 1992; Kreuter and Workman, 1992). The relative economic improvement that game ranching brings to livestock production increases with the introduction of safari hunting to game ranches, for example, Iwaba in the Midlands, the Matesi Area in Natural Region IV, and Buffalo Range and Limpopo Intensive Conservation Area in Natural Region V (Kiss, 1990; Jansen, Bond and Child, 1992; Child, 1995).

5 For a long time, CAMPFIRE was seen as a success, and numerous laudatory texts exist. However, the breakdown of law and order in many areas of rural Zimbabwe, and poaching, which is now rife, illustrate the often ephemeral sustainability of such initiatives.

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