High numbers of extralimital species (i.e. those that historically did not occur in the area) have been introduced into many private protected areas in the Eastern Cape to increase the number of different animals available for viewing, under the assumption that this is what tourists want. Even though the ecological and economic costs of having these extralimital species are high, the social benefits are not understood.  


Dr. Kristine Maciejewski assessed how important these species are for ecotourism by evaluating their appeal to tourists. Her research showed that tourists did not prefer these extralimital species over indigenous species.





In: Maciejewski, K. and G. I. H. Kerley. 2014.

Understanding Tourists’ Preferences for Mammal Species in Private Protected Areas: Is There a Case for Extralimital Species for Ecotourism.

PLoS ONE 9(2): e88192

Online paper




Even though the ecological and economic costs of extralimital species are known, managers are reluctant to remove extralimital species as they assume that without these species tourist numbers will drop. These expectations are anecdotal and not based on empirical evidence.


What we found

  • Tourists like to see elephant, lion, leopard and cheetah, which (with the exception of the cheetah) are all members of the ‘big five’ and indigenous to the Eastern Cape.
  • Certain extralimital species, typically the large and charismatic species (e.g. giraffe, white rhino) contributed to tourist satisfaction, while tourists showed little interest in the smaller extralimital species (e.g. impala, nyala).
  • Species availability and visibility may influence the amount of time tourists spend at an animal sighting.


Management advice

  • Tourists do not prefer to see extralimital species per se.
  • The introduction of extralimital species should be approached with caution with regards to the risks and sustainability of private protected areas.