Some wildlife conservationists are now being criticized for not acknowledging the cost-benefit analysis for local communities. When asking a local community to stop all game hunting, you risk undermining their economy and create potential for poaching if you do not provide an alternative source of income. This is exactly what has been happening throughout Africa ever since traditional hunting practices were outlawed.
"Poaching in Zambia, as in many of our other African countries, is a widespread problem resulting in the decimation of large numbers of wildlife. Numerous hardships faced by poor communities in Zambia
drove the need, in many instances, for poaching. These problems were studied by the Wildlife Conservation Society, in conjunction with other
partners, over a number of years. The realization was that without a practical and sustainable alternative to poaching as a means of survival, the act would persist.
"An ambitious initiative, Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), stepped in. COMACO is a novel, emerging company in Zambia that is pioneering an innovative way for making markets
and conservation work together. COMACO produces IT'S WILD!, a special brand of organic, value-added processed products that come from the farmers who live with wildlife. Urban consumers buy these
products and in so doing, pay for the cost of rewarding small-scale farmers for supporting conservation.
"COMACO persuaded poachers to turn away from destructive practices by adopting farming methods that add value to their land. In return, the new farmers benefit through an assured market paying top prices and by receiving assistance in the form of skills and inputs to grow more food."
Implications from SA Node:
"This is an excellent example of a positive contribution (by a poor country) to sustainable development as there are a range of social, economic and environmental benefits to poachers becoming farmers - reduction in crime, increase in agricultural productivity, protection of biodiversity, job creation, etc."
South Africa Node, Sept. 2010