PR - Farm Level Financial Analysis Of The Wildlife Sector In South Africa
Despite recent statistics suggesting that the South African Wildlife industry is experiencing economic pressure coupled with a general financial upswing in the livestock sector; there is still an on-going switch from livestock to wildlife ranching making the wildlife sector the fastest growing agricultural sector in South Africa. Assuming that this switch is viewed as rational behaviour; can it be argued that the financial performance of the wildlife sector is still superior when compared with livestock? The study employs a profitability performance measurement in the form of Return on Investment to answer the research question. Primary data, collected by means of personal interviews among leading wildlife ranchers and farmers in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa was used for the required calculations. Results revealed that the economic pressure experienced by the industry is also visible in certain wildlife operations, specifically among wildlife harvesting and biltong hunting operations. Wildlife harvesting in particular yielded significant lower Returns on Investment compared to cattle farming. On the contrary, the financial performance of ranching operations such as a combination between biltong and trophy hunting as well as the breeding of plains and higher-value species for live sales proves to be superior when compared with cattle. Therefore, it is not reasonable to argue that despite economic pressure, the financial performance of wildlife is still superior to that of livestock. Moreover, it can be concluded that the continued switch from livestock to wildlife is only motivated by the financial performance of selected few wildlife operations in South Africa.
Key words: wildlife ranching; financial performance; return on investment