Wildebeest migration drives tourism demand in the Serengeti

Larsen, F., Hopcraft, J. G. C. , Hanley, N. , Hongoa, J. R., Hynes, S., Loibook, M., Mafuru, G., Needham, K. and Morrison, T. A. (2020) Wildebeest migration drives tourism demand in the Serengeti. Biological Conservation, 248, 108688. (doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108688)

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We examine tourism demand for an iconic ecological resource – the migration of ~1.3 million wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. The wildebeest migration generates economic benefits through ecotourism, which we investigated by combining quantitative tools from spatial ecology and environmental economics with wildebeest GPS collar data and lodge use data from Serengeti National Park. We used GLMMs and random utility models to quantify the effect of the distance from lodges to wildebeest hotspots on two important aspects of demand: the number of tourists visiting lodges in the park (participation); and the tourists' choice of where to stay during their visit (site choice). We find that longer distances between lodges and wildebeest hotspots significantly reduced tourist participation (i.e. the total number of tourists visiting lodges) and site choice (the probability of tourist groups choosing a lodge). Lodge price had a positive effect on participation, but it did not affect site choice for international tourist groups. Whilst our results are specific to the Serengeti, the methods presented here can be applied to any system in which non-consumptive wildlife viewing is the foundation of local ecotourism. As such, this novel approach provides a new perspective on the economics of wildlife management and strengthens the case for the continued conservation of ecosystems that contain wildlife resources. Due to the high value of the wildebeest migration to tourism, we suggest that future expansion of tourist infrastructure in the Serengeti should proceed in ways that minimise disturbance to this living resource.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Simpson, Dr Katherine and Morrison, Dr Thomas and Hanley, Professor Nicholas and Hopcraft, Professor Grant and Hongoa, Mr John and Larsen, Miss Freja
Creator Roles:
Larsen, F.Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Visualization
Hopcraft, J. G. C.Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing, Visualization
Hanley, N.Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing – review and editing
Hongoa, J. R.Data curation, Writing – review and editing
Needham, K.Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing
Morrison, T. A.Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing, Visualization
Authors: Larsen, F., Hopcraft, J. G. C., Hanley, N., Hongoa, J. R., Hynes, S., Loibook, M., Mafuru, G., Needham, K., and Morrison, T. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Biological Conservation
ISSN (Online):1873-2917
Published Online:20 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Biological Conservation 248: 108688
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
171925AfricanBioServicesDaniel HaydonEuropean Commission (EC)641918Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine