, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 109-118

Protected areas, agricultural pests and economic damage: conflicts with elephants and pests in Yunnan, China

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Abstract

Protected areas are often the source of agricultural pests and Xishuangbanna State Nature Reserve in Yunnan is no exception. The main pest associated with the reserve is the Asian elephant Elephas maximus which causes damage outside the reserve to agriculture and also within the reserve. These elephants are an important attraction for tourists visiting Xishuangbanna. Xishuangbanna prefecture contains the only remaining wild elephants in China. The present direct economic value of tourism within the reserve is much less than the loss resulting from the economic damage caused by the elephants and other species protected by it. Whether the net economic value of protecting this species in Xishuangbanna is positive depends on other factors or future tourism prospects. Methods of controlling pests from the reserve are discussed, as is the scheme for compensating agriculturalists for the damage caused by these pests. The problem of achieving an equitable solution to the pest problem is given considerable attention. The economics of reconciling the conflicting interests of those who either regard a species as a pest or as an asset are considered.