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Abstract

Opinions differ about what types of policies are likely to be most effective in conserving wildlife species. For example, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) is based on the premise that curbing the commercial use of endangered species favours their conservation, whereas the Convention on Biological Diversity envisages the possibility that such use may contribute to the conservation of species. In Australia, as illustrated in the case of the saltwater crocodile, the governments of the Northern Territory and Western Australia have favoured the latter policy in recent years whereas Queensland has favoured the former approach. The saltwater crocodile management plan of the Northern Territory provides an instructive case study of the consequences of adopting a commercial use strategy to promote wildlife conservation. The methodology used in this study, which involves a survey of crocodile farm managers and managers of cattle properties in the Northern Territory as well as secondary data, is outlined, after providing background on the conservation status of saltwater crocodiles in Australia and the saltwater crocodile management plan of the Northern Territory. In the results section, after outlining the nature and structure of the Northern Territory crocodile farming industry, evidence is presented on whether or not the crocodile management plan of the Northern Territory encourages pastoralists to conserve crocodiles on their properties. This study concludes with a discussion of the overall conservation effectiveness of the crocodile management scheme of the Northern Territory and considers its possible implications for saltwater crocodile management in areas of Asia where the species occurs.

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