Original Research

Climate change and the ownership of game: A concern for fenced wildlife areas

Andy Blackmore
Koedoe | Vol 62, No 1 | a1594 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v62i1.1594 | © 2020 Andy Blackmore | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 September 2019 | Published: 22 June 2020

About the author(s)

Andy Blackmore, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; and, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


Wildlife and particularly economically valuable game are likely to be displaced as a result of the habitat change. This displacement is expressed, inter alia, in the emigration of game to a more suitable habitat. The impacts of climate change, therefore, may have significant consequences on the economic well-being of wildlife areas, which are derived from, amongst others, sale of excess animals, hunting and tourism. This article investigates whether the South African statute and common law provide sufficient protection to landowners, from a game ownership perspective, as the impacts of climate change become evident. It was discovered that the complexity derived from the relationship between landownership, legislation and common law (1) required wildlife areas to be isolated fenced areas, (2) may lead to loss of ownership of game which escapes as a consequence of climate change and (3) provided for the possible loss of ownership of all game occurring in the wildlife area and those emigrating when all or part of an encircling boundary fence is removed to establish a wildlife or climate change corridor. It is further recommended that the Game Theft Act 105 of 1991 requires substantial amendment to enable owners of wildlife areas to retain ownership of game that escapes or emigrates in response to climate change. Finally, it is recommended that landowners acquire and include into their fenced wildlife areas an additional area as an interim measure to mitigate the impacts of climate change, until such time that the desired legislative change is implemented.

Conservation implications: Climate change has serious implications for continued ownership of escaped wildlife as well as for the implementation of adaptive strategies to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate on fenced wildlife areas. The South African law needs to be revised to protect wildlife owners as the impacts of climate change become evident.


climate change; common law; conservation; game fences; game farms; Game Theft Act 105 of 1991; game; ownership; protected areas; rural communities; wildlife


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Crossref Citations

1. Is climate change a concern for the ownership of game within fenced wildlife areas?
Haemish I. Melville, Robyn S. Hetem, W. Maartin Strauss
KOEDOE - African Protected Area Conservation and Science  vol: 63  issue: 1  year: 2021  
doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v63i1.1673