Table of Contents
ISRN Biodiversity
Volume 2014, Article ID 737832, 7 pages
Review Article

A Comparison of the South African and United States Models of Natural Areas Management

1National Park Service, 231 East Saint Joseph Street, Rapid City, SD 57701, USA
2Badlands National Park, Interior, SD 57750, USA
3Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, SD 57747, USA

Received 31 October 2013; Accepted 15 December 2013; Published 28 January 2014

Academic Editors: P. K. S. Shin and P. M. Vergara

Copyright © 2014 Daniel S. Licht et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In May-June of 2013 we visited several South African parks and reserves to learn about wildlife and natural areas management in that country. We focused our visit on parks and reserves that are of moderate size (5,000–100,00 ha), comprised of grassland/savanna habitats, located within agrarian landscapes, and enclosed with boundary fences, characteristics similar to several parks and reserves in the Northern Great Plains region of the United States. In this paper we compare the South African model of natural areas management to the United States model. We observed that South African parks and reserves with the aforementioned characteristics are more likely to (1) reintroduce and conserve small, nonviable wildlife populations, (2) reintroduce and conserve top-level predators, (3) have more intensive management of wildlife, (4) manage in partnership across multiple landowners, (5) engage local communities, (6) be self-funding, and (7) restrict visitor movement. The South African model is arguably more effective in conserving biodiversity as measured by conservation of apex predators and natural processes. The differences between the countries appear to be driven in large part by socioeconomic factors. Knowledge of natural areas management in other countries may lead to more innovative and creative models that could benefit biodiversity conservation.