Local Level Economic Impacts of Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in Southern Africa

In 2021, Conservation Strategy Fund partnered with the Namibia Nature Foundation to analyze the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in Southern Africa. One of the world’s largest internationally-organized crimes, IWT threatens the populations of numerous species and the strength of national economies that rely on the resources and services of wildlife as natural capital. This collaboration produced a current state of knowledge assessment on IWT and the economics of IWT in Southern Africa and a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) tool that can forecast the economic impacts of IWT. 

Applying this tool to Namibia, CSF found significant benefits from investments to curb IWT. The US$17 million investment Namibia spends annually to combat IWT translates to benefits of approximately US$122 million. While successfully combating poaching could lead to benefits of US$260 million over 10 years, ceasing these investments would lead to losses of US$350 million in the same period of time. 

The second phase of this initiative was launched in September 2022, with a goal to assess the local economic trade-offs from anti-poaching efforts in communities across Southern Africa. This initiative will culminate in a policy forum to share the findings with stakeholders, including governmental officials, NGOs, local people, business sector and the academia, among others. We hope to provide communities with the tools and information needed to combat IWT, fortifying community conservation efforts and encouraging sustainable economic development. 

This work is part of the VukaNow project, financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Chemonics International Inc.

Photo: Elephant and zebra, Etosha National Park, Namibia 
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com