Original Research

The operational competitiveness of public protected areas managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Karabo D. Motau, Edilegnaw Wale
Koedoe | Vol 60, No 1 | a1452 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v60i1.1452 | © 2018 Karabo D. Motau, Edilegnaw W. Zegeye | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2016 | Published: 27 March 2018

About the author(s)

Karabo D. Motau, Discipline of Agricultural Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Edilegnaw Wale, Discipline of Agricultural Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


The purpose of this study was to measure the operational competitiveness of public protected areas (PPAs) in the KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Financial data for ecotourism operations in PPAs were collected from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) for 2007–2013, to construct an operational competitiveness profile for each PPA by using a non-parametric method called operational competitiveness rating analysis (OCRA). The results show that permanent staff, utilities, maintenance and repairs, and cost of sales were cost items with the highest average share of total costs, whereas accommodation, admissions, sales and tours, and rides and hikes received higher average shares of total revenues for most PPAs. The identification of the most important cost and revenue items was followed by the computation of resource consumption and revenue generation inefficiency ratings from 2007 to 2013, with the results showing that resource competitiveness had more impact on operational competitiveness relative to revenue competitiveness. This suggests that PPAs under EKZNW can improve operational competitiveness by reducing costs. Ecotourism is an economic incentive used in several countries to encourage biodiversity conservation. Because of declining public funding, conservation agencies such as EKZNW in South Africa should find new sources of funding or find cost-effective ways of managing ecotourism operations.

Conservation implications: This information will provide insights into the quality of operational efficiencies of ecotourism activities at EKZNW-controlled PPAs and motivate management to adopt cost-cutting and revenue-increasing strategies to improve operational competitiveness.


Ecotourism; Public protected areas; Operational competitiveness; Management; Policy


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Crossref Citations

1. Identifying key risks to the achievement of protected area system objectives
Reece Alberts, Francois Retief, Claudine Roos, Dirk Cilliers, Willem Lubbe
Nature Conservation  vol: 49  first page: 53  year: 2022  
doi: 10.3897/natureconservation.49.83759