Our objective was to assess the status of the large native rangeland mammals in the eastern and southern African countries focusing on conservation strategies that will benefit the animals, their rangeland habitats, and the people who live in this region. Eastern and southern African rangelands are renowned for supporting a globally unique diversity and abundance of large mammals. This wildlife legacy is threatened by changing demographics, increased poaching, habitat fragmentation, and global warming, but there are reasons for optimism. After sharp declines from 1970 to 1990 across Africa, wildlife populations in some countries have subsequently increased due to incentives involving sport hunting and ecotourism. National parks and protected areas, which have been critically important in maintaining African wildlife populations, are being increased and better protected. Over the past 50 years, the number of parks has been doubled and the areas of several parks have been expanded. The major problem is that no more than 20% of the national parks and reserves set aside for wildlife are adequately protected from poaching. The southern African countries where wildlife has recently thrived have robust hunting and ecotourism programs, which economically benefit private landowners. Considerable research shows rural communities dependent on rangelands can be incentivized to participate in large mammal conservation programs if they can economically benefit from wildlife tourism, sport hunting, and the legal sale of animal byproducts. Community-based wildlife conservation programs can be economically and ecologically effective in sustaining and enhancing African wildlife biodiversity, including rhinos, elephants, and lions. Low-input ranching wild ungulates for meat and hunting may be an economically viable alternative to traditional range livestock production systems in some areas. However, in many situations, common-use grazing of livestock and wildlife will give the most efficient use of rangeland forages and landscapes while diversifying income and lowering risk.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2