Original Research

Could conservation management be prioritised during captive wildlife experiences?

Adam H. Viljoen, Martinette Kruger
Acta Commercii | Vol 20, No 1 | a853 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v20i1.853 | © 2020 Adam H. Viljoen, Martinette Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 January 2020 | Published: 22 September 2020

About the author(s)

Adam H. Viljoen, Department of Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Martinette Kruger, Department of Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Wildlife rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries are experiencing increased pressure from conservationists and animal rights activists to eradicate captive wildlife interactions.

Research purpose: Conservation management is a crucial aspect of these establishments. Research on how to enhance conservation management in these establishments, particularly in a South African context, is scant – a gap that this research fills.

Research design, approach and method: This study was approached from the regulatory ontological stance, neo-positivism, and was exploratory. Furthermore, it made use of a quantitative research method in the form of a structured online questionnaire. Through a convenience snowball sampling method 172 responses were obtained. The data were exported to Microsoft Excel© and analysed by using SPSS Version 25. The multivariate analyses included factor analyses and a stepwise linear regression analysis.

Main findings: Exploratory factor analyses identified the motives (socialisation and participation, volunteerism and education, novelty and value, and wellness and interaction), key management aspects (staff, conservation, visitor, accessibility and service management) and interpretation needs of visitors (subjective, objective, interactive and interpersonal interpretation). Because conservation management is a primary objective of sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres, this factor was the dependent variable. The linear regression analyses determined which individual motivations, key management aspects and interpretation factors had the greatest influence in enhancing conservation management.

Practical/managerial implications: The results provided valuable insight regarding management practices, marketing strategies and interpretation preferences of visitors to enhance captive wildlife experiences. The findings may help change the negative perceptions surrounding the management of captive wildlife establishments.

Contribution/value-add: Organisations and the public need to realise that the end goal is not to criticise or ridicule the establishments, but rather to provide guidelines on how to manage the visitor experience by emphasising conservation management principles sustainably.


Keywords

captive wildlife experiences; conservation management; sanctuaries; rehabilitation centres; visitor experience; interpretation needs; visitor motive

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