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Accounting for rhinos – the case of South African National Parks (SANParks)

Barry Ackers (College of Accounting Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa and a Trustee and Board Member of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 2 November 2018

Issue publication date: 22 March 2019




Biodiversity is required to sustain life on earth, but the rampant growth in the illegal wildlife trade has created a global conservation challenge, where the African continent is one of the primary casualties. This paper aims to explore how South African National Parks (SANParks) (as the custodian of the largest population of rhinos in the wild) accounts to its stakeholders about how it has discharged its biodiversity mandate relating to rhino preservation.


The paper seeks to determine whether the increase in rhino-poaching over the period from 2006 to 2015 is reflected by a concomitant increase in related disclosures in SANParks’ annual reports. It adopts a mixed-methods research approach using both descriptive and inferential statistics, as well as a qualitative analysis of pertinent narrative disclosures describing how SANParks accounts to its stakeholders on the discharge of the rhino-related component of its biodiversity mandate.


The study finds that SANParks uses its publicly available annual reports to disclose how it has discharged the rhino-related component of its biodiversity mandate. In this regard, it identified a strong positive correlation between incidents of rhino-poaching and annual report disclosures in the period up to 2010. Initially, SANParks disclosed its rhino-poaching-related performance through impression management to bolster its legitimacy, but later focused its reporting on its rhino conservation efforts.


Although the subject of rhino-poaching has been extensively researched, this one of the first papers to explore the phenomenon from a governance and accountability perspective of a state-owned entity (\ SANParks) under the mantle of extinction accounting.



Ackers, B. (2019), "Accounting for rhinos – the case of South African National Parks (SANParks)", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 186-207.



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