Local communities are a vital cog in the conservation of African Wildlife. Ivan Carter a conservationist says that conservation in modern Africa has to include three core elements: community engagement, wildlife protection and the science and research.
Ivan explains that community engagement is probably the most important, that is how the community living around and amongst the wildlife is benefiting and, engage in the longevity of their wildlife. The same observation was made by Clive Stockil who then designed the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources, whose principles have since been replicated across Africa and the rest of the world.
The programme is designed to ensure that local communities also become active in conservation while benefiting from the proceeds of their conservation efforts. The programme which in Zimbabwe started in Mahenye Communal Lands has spread to all areas close to game reserves and has helped in dealing with poaching.
Communities allow part of their unused or grazing land to be fenced for the protection of wildlife and they benefit through trophy hunting and tourism. Some of the successful community owned projects include Jomanda Community Conservancy on the fringes of Gonarezhou and Nyangambe Community Wildlife Conservation project, a buffer of the Save Valley Conservancy.
Community engagement in conservation however should go beyond the protection of wildlife resources and include the prevention of land pollution and contamination of water bodies especially in busy areas. Communities should take part in the restoration of degraded ecosystem through tree planting programmes, gulley reclamation and other conservation mechanisms.