National Park Service


Date of this Version



Published in Weber, Samantha, and David Harmon, eds. 2008. Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2007 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society.


In many parts of the world, national parks are the last remaining wild areas and the best hope for conserving native wildlife and natural processes. This is true in the United States and in South Africa, where both countries are viewed as leaders in wildlife conservation. However, both countries face similar threats and issues when attempting to conserve native grassland wildlife, especially large fauna. For example, many native grassland ungulates historically traveled great distances in response to changing environmental conditions, yet landscape fragmentation and societal concerns (e.g., impacts on cropland) now prevent largescale movements. Hence, parks in both countries often use fences to constrain large animals. These fenced areas are often less than 100,000 acres and isolated within agrarian landscapes. Despite these similarities, there are striking differences in management approaches. We compare large-fauna management in national parks in the Northern Great Plains of the United States with similar parks and protected areas in South Africa. Such a comparison can improve agency effectiveness and wildlife conservation by inspiring management actions and policies currently outside of agency paradigms.