Skip to main content

2011-10-27 | News

Wildlife conservation can help poor communities survive

Press release in connection with EfD Policy Day Arusha, Tanzania, 27 October 2011

Wildlife is a vital economic asset in many parts of Southern Africa. Allowing poor communities in Southern Africa to retain income from wildlife and forestry not only provides them with incentives for conservation, but allows several economic layers to be built on the resources so conserved, creating employment and economic multipliers throughout the economy. This is shown by research conducted by Environment for Development South Africa in six Southern Africa countries. The findings are highly relevant also for Tanzania.

Since the mid-1980s governments of six Southern Africa countries have implemented community-based wildlife conservation programs that combine economic, political and institutional goals, encompassing simultaneous conservation, development and political emancipation of poor people. Dr Edwin Muchapondwa from EfD South Africa is studying the economic viability of these programs.

Dr Muchapondwa (left) has found that the key has been giving landholders strong use rights and encouraging the commercialization of wildlife, including trade and developing of new wildlife products. Improved institutions are an important means for reducing the ecological over-utilization of natural resources while simultaneously increasing livelihood benefits.

Dr Muchapondwa argues that the findings are highly relevant for community-based wildlife conservation also in Tanzania. The studied countries have similar conditions in terms of climatic variability, low agricultural productivity and abundance of wildlife resources. Like the studied countries Tanzania has a significant poor population especially in rural areas that needs multiple livelihood strategies to survive, and these strategies require collective action. Besides, wildlife tourism is important for job creation, foreign exchange earnings and fiscal incomes in Tanzania. Tourist hunting alone has been estimated to generate about USD 10 million in direct government revenue and in total about USD 30 million in industry earnings.

Dr Muchapondwa suggests that Tanzania should avoid suspicion of communities’ involvement in wildlife conservation as that often leads to poorly conceived regulatory restrictions. Instead, Tanzania should move towards greater transfer of the rights to use, manage and allocate resources to communities. Tanzania should increasingly encourage the use of market rather than administrative-based fees and licenses in wildlife conservation.

“Right from the beginning, involvement of local people in conservation should address the new community-based wildlife conservation challenges which are restricting progress in Southern Africa, namely the need to increase the impact at the household and not just community level. The need to diversify sources of benefit is as important, and the next commercial breakthrough lies with marketing environmental services such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation that many communities are already providing as an adjunct to wildlife management. Finally, it is important to recognize that community-based wildlife conservation is a complex long-term process that stretches beyond the timeframe and imagination of donor projects”, says Dr Muchapondwa.

For more information, please contact Dr Edwin Muchapondwa,

 Fischer, C., Muchapondwa, E. and T. Sterner (2011). “A Bio-Economic Model of Community Incentives for Wildlife Management under CAMPFIRE”. Environmental & Resource Economics, Vol. 48 No. 2. pp 303-319.
 Muchapondwa, E., Carlsson, F. and G. Kohlin (2008). Wildlife management in Zimbabwe: Evidence from a contingent valuation study. South African Journal of Economics, (December) Volume 76 No. 4, pp 685-704.
 Muchapondwa, E. (2002). “Community participation in wildlife management as a strategy for rural poverty reduction: The case of CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe”. New Academy Review, (Summer) Volume 1 No. 2, pp116-131.
 Suich, H., Child, B. and A. Spenceley, (eds.) (2009). Evolution & Innovation in Wildlife Conservation: Parks and Game Ranches to Transfrontier Conservation Areas, Earthscan