Well-managed wildlife trade can benefit poor communities

Well-managed wildlife trade can benefit poor communities-TRAFFIC, WWF

According to findings of a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and WWF, a well-managed wildlife trade has the potential to deliver significant development benefits for the world’s poor. The report shows that wildlife trade offers opportunities to the poor and benefits to local communities, but these are threatened when illegal or unsustainable trade is allowed to flourish. This is an interesting finding for Kenya where trade in wildlife and wildlife products was banned in 1977. Kenya has since maintained a restrictive non-consumptive utilisation policy and has interestingly lost over 60 % of its wildlife within this time and illegal and unsustainable exploitation of wildlife for bushmeat has reached alarming rates.

The legal, international trade in wild plants and animals and the products derived from them was estimated as worth close to USD300 billion in 2005, based on declared import values-and the value is rising, according to this report.

The report finds that well-managed, legal and sustainable trade can also have a significant impact on all eight of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the globally agreed road map for development, which lay out targets on poverty and hunger reduction (MDG1) access to education (MDG2), health care (MDGs4, 5 and 6), environmental sustainability (MDG7) and good governance (MDG8). For Kenya, such a trade will help our country achieve the Vision 2020 goals by economically empowering the poor and giving land owners additional sources of income from their land.

Wildlife products traded include medicines, food, clothing, ornaments, furnishings, pets, ornamental plants, zoological and botanical display, research, manufacturing and construction materials. As well as contributing to the incomes of the poor, many also contribute directly to their housing, health and other needs.

According to Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International’s Species Programme: “Trade in wildlife products can have a significant positive economic impact on people’s livelihoods, childhood education, and the role of women in developing countries, provided it is legal, well-managed and sustainable.”

The report recommends governments explore semi-intensive production methods, experiment with management regimes that support sustainable off-take levels for species in trade, develop ‘pro-poor’ approaches to standards and certification schemes, and explore co-ordinated approaches to different components of wildlife trade, such as balancing commercial and subsistence interests. Unlike in Kenya where wildlife utilisation have mostly favoured the rich and those with access to capital resulting in resentment against wildlife and revenge killings of endangered species by poor communities to prick where it hurt most.

Iregi Mwenja

USFWS MENTOR Fellow

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