Africa depends on wildlife conservation to drive economic development, not just in tourism but in fisheries, farming and more, according to executive director Richard Vigne of the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation.
“The overall health of the continent’s economy actually depends on conservation. In fact, almost 60% of Africans depend upon this precious natural inheritance for their livelihoods,” says Vigne in a recent article on protecting Africa’s biodiversity.
But the future of countless species face many challenges. Climate change is driving nearly half of species to the edge of extinctions. Lion and elephant populations have been cut in half, often due to land use policies. Even the growth in protected conservation areas across the last 50 years has led to failure in protecting species in 80% of their locations.
Tourism accounts for US$29 billion across sub-Saharan Africa, with aquaculture adding another $24 billion and forests supporting the value of food, medicine, energy and other products that support African incomes.
“We need to advance beyond the conventional thinking and actively foster the expansion of Africa’s wildlife economy,” says Vigne.
Kenya, Namibia, and Uganda represent just a few of the success stories of wildlife conservation in service to economic empowerment. “Every dollar invested in Senegal’s and Tanzania’s marine protected areas generates more than $5000,” he adds, citing development agency FSD Africa data.
Educating a new generation of climate and conservation leaders is key to Africa’s future, but so is government and organizational investment in conservation and biodiversity.
“We need to build partnership, bringing together conservationists, investors, entrepreneurs and technologists to help unlock the potential of Africa’s wildlife economy,” Vigne says.
Image: Botswana Government file