Commercial value of Big 5 revealed

2012-10-17 11:53
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2012-10-03 14:23

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It's no secret that the Big 5 means big money for South Africa, but a new study conducted in the Kruger National Park revealed just how much tourists are prepared to pay for each.

Headed up by Prof. Melville Saayman of the North-West University's Potchefstroom Campus, the study was commissioned by SANParks and found that tourists are willing to pay more than R3 500 to spot one of the Big 5 in Kruger. 

Spurwing Tourism reports that the researchers questioned about 600 visitors to the park about how much of their holiday budget they would spend to see the Big Five.

According to the results they are willing to pay on average R1 136.43 to see a leopard, R1 007.17 for a lion, R753, 12 a rhinoceros, R658, 91 for an elephant and R498, 50 for buffalo. Saayman pointed out the average lifespan of a leopard is estimated at 15 years and if 5 000 people saw the animal annually, this is an R85 232 250 contribution to the economy.

"The Kruger National Park attracts over a million visitors per year and this income supports between 300 000 and 600 000 people who live in the park's surrounding areas," Saayman said. The team conducted research at Punda Maria in the north of the Park and the Olifants Letaba and Mopani Rest Camp. Saayman said it is clear from the research that eco-tourism is a major job creator and that it makes a tremendous contribution to the public purse.

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