Tourism as an incentive for rewilding: the conversion from cattle to game farms in Limpopo province, South Africa

Gijsbert Hoogendoorn, Daniel Meintjes, Clare Kelso, Jennifer Fitchett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Wildlife has represented the key tourist attractions in South Africa. Boasting the big five, pristine national parks and three of the world’s ecological hotspots, tourism is a growing sector in South Africa. In addition to wildlife viewing, South Africa also attracts wildlife hunters to a network of private game farms, and in some cases, these bring in higher gross income than nature reserves. In the South African context, private game farms draw local and international tourists often offering accommodation in a natural setting, and a range of nature-based activities. Given the commercial success of private game farms, a number of agricultural farms have been converted to game farms in recent years. This shift has been marked within the cattle farming sector of Limpopo Province, the region with which this study engages. Faced with the risks of diseases, drought, cost of land and labour, and the declining price of beef, game farms offered self-reliance, diversification of product, and reduced seasonality in earnings. Although driven by economic factors, the conversion to game farming is characterised by the reintroduction of large herbivores, is resulting in land cover change and an increase in biodiversity and is therefore argued to be a form of ‘rewilding’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ecotourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


  • Rewilding
  • cattle farming
  • economic diversification
  • game farming
  • motivations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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