To save Africa's wildlife, nature needs to work for people

Do you care about Africa's wildlife? If so, then you should care about livelihood options that work not just for wildlife habitats, but for the people living in and around them.

Thriving communities and thriving wildlife can go hand-in-hand. For conservation to succeed in the long run, the people who live with wildlife need to see benefits from protecting it. And COVID-19 taught Africa's protected and conserved areas a valuable lesson – ecotourism alone is not the answer to creating sustainable, nature-based economies.

An April 2020 survey found that, on average, over 80 percent of the revenue protected areas across Africa expected to generate from ecotourism was lost at the start of COVID-19. Economic solutions tied to successful conservation require diverse approaches.

People living in and around protected and conserved areas need choices for earning a living that encourage coexistence with nature. What does that look like?

In practice, this looks like planting cash crops like legumes that fertilize the soil. Or harvesting bush mango and njansang from the forest to produce beauty products like oils and creams. Planting chili, a valuable crop itself, wards off wildlife that would otherwise destroy crops, keeping more of the harvest intact for food or sale. The list goes on – these are just some of the livelihood solutions that are a win-win for people and wildlife.

If you aren't already convinced: Because these kinds of opportunities are profitable, they often attract would-be poachers to turn elsewhere for a more sustainable source of income.

African Wildlife Foundation is working to expand these solutions on the ground and advocate for them on the global stage. Add your name if you agree with us that Africa needs economic solutions that help both people and nature to thrive.
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