South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
BOSHOFF, André F.; LANDMAN, Marietjie; KERLEY, Graham I.H. and BRADFIELD, Megan. Visitors' views on alien animal species in national parks: a case study from South Africa. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.9-10, pp. 326-328. ISSN 1996-7489.
Little information exists globally on the levels of awareness of visitors to national parks about the role of these parks, in part, to protect ecosystems. An exploratory study, involving a questionnaire survey, supported by interviews, examined visitors' views on the hypothetical presence of alien (that is, non-indigenous) animal species in the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa. Correlations between responses and respondents' country of origin, level of education and age were investigated. The majority (c. 62%) of the respondents, who interpreted the questions correctly, were not aware of the fact that the presence of alien species would be at odds with the vision of the AENP, insofar as it refers to protecting the integrity of its ecosystems; this indicates the need for a focused education campaign for park visitors. Foreign respondents, and those who possessed a high level of tertiary education, were more opposed to the presence of alien species than South African respondents and those with lower levels of education. Respondents opposed to such a presence (c. 38%) form a relatively large segment of the growing ecotourism market in South Africa; research needs to be conducted to determine whether this group may be lost to the industry if alien species continue to be stocked in some state-run and private conservation areas. Little progress appears to have been made in the past 25 years in South Africa regarding the level of knowledge of park visitors about alien species, ecological and environmental interrelationships and the goals of park management.