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Unlocking the potential of the wildlife economy in Africa


Sue Snyman

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

In March 2021, the School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) at the African Leadership University published a report – State of the Wildlife Economy in Africa – based on research to determine the value of wildlife in Africa. The goal: to encourage more public and private investments in natural landscapes to improve conservation outcomes and support economic development.

Africa possesses extraordinarily rich and diverse wildlife resources. They comprise the planet’s largest mammal species assemblages, second-largest tropical rainforest and three of the most productive marine ecosystems. Africa’s wild resources – its wildlife (fauna and flora, marine and terrestrial) and its natural landscapes are, however, largely not recognised for their economic, livelihood, and health contributions. And they should be, as should ecosystem services linked to wild resources such as agriculture and commercial forestry.

Given that the Global Risks Report has ranked biodiversity loss as one of the top five global risks in the next ten years (WEF, 2019), it is critical that governments invest in protecting biodiversity. This will stimulate development by supporting the growth of the wildlife economy, increasing revenues and employment. Investments in conservation deliver competitive returns compared with other mainstream sectors. Therefore, African governments must step up to create an enabling environment for investment in the sustainable use of wildlife and natural landscapes. This is especially important given how many local livelihoods and macro-economies are tied to and reliant on wildlife and other natural resources.

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