|Title||Ecological and economic impacts of gorilla-based tourism in Dzanga-Sangha, Central African Republic|
|Source||Wageningen University. Promotor(en): H.H.T. Prins; A.M.H. Brunsting. - S.l. : S.n. - ISBN 9789058084101 - 165|
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
|Publication type||Dissertation, internally prepared|
|Keyword(s)||gorilla's - toerisme - natuurtoerisme - milieueffect - economische impact - wild - centraal-afrikaanse republiek - beschermde gebieden - menselijke invloed - gorillas - tourism - nature tourism - environmental impact - economic impact - wildlife - central african republic - reserved areas - human impact|
This thesis investigates the potential role of tourism in the funding of protected area management in the Congo Basin. An assessment of the protected areas and gazetted forests of the Central African Republic (CAR) showed that only about one third of the protected areas is more or less effectively managed. Almost all the gazetted forest and the remainder of the protected areas are insufficiently protected from human disturbance, which is mostly in the form of poaching. This example underlines the fact that long term under-financing of the management has seriously affected the integrity of protected areas in the Congo Basin. Even in relatively well managed areas, such as the Dzanga-Sangha protected area complex, in southwestern CAR, human impact on wildlife can still be measured and is related to the distance from roads.
The costs of management to effectively protect the forests of the Congo Basin are high. The potential role that tourism could play in raising revenue for management and for the local communities was investigated based on the case study of ape viewing in Dzanga-Sangha. Ape-viewing is a high return type of tourism and conditions to develop such tourism in Dzanga-Sangha were good. The area harbors high densities of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and several previous studies on these apes had been carried out. In order for visitors to be able to view the apes they needed to be habituated to human presence. This thesis shows that habituation of gorillas for tourism is feasible. Although feasible, the habituation process requires a substantial investment in time and money and is not without risks. It is unlikely that tourism, including ape-viewing, will be economically viable from a commercial point of view. It is unlikely that revenue form tourism will cover the management cost of the Dzanga-Sangha protected area now or in the foreseeable future. Even though tourism can bring important gains to the region, such as revenue and employment, managers have to carefully weigh these advantages against the apes' well being and the risky economics of tourism in Central Africa.
Given the fact that Dzanga-Sangha provides one of the best opportunities for this type of tourism in the Congo Basin and that even here the economic success is highly questionable, it is unlikely to be a realistic option in but a few exceptional places in this part of the world. This case study clearly demonstrates that although some user fees have the potential to generate substantial revenue for protected areas in the Congo Basin, these fees will be far from sufficient to manage the protected area system.