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The Zambezi Society’s Strategic Director, Richard Maasdorp took part in the first African Wildlife Economy Summit held in Victoria Falls 23rd-26th June 2019.

The Summit event was attended by four regional African presidents, diplomatic representatives, influential organisations such as Peace Parks and Space for Giants and about 1000 delegates. It focused on the Wildlife Economy Initiative, launched jointly by The African Union and UN Environment “to forge a new deal for tourism, rural communities and wildlife by 2030”.

This Initiative seeks to highlight the key importance of conservation to the continent's successful future, with the following message:

“Africa is a future global economic growth engine. But this growth faces challenges, particularly the degradation of nature and people-wildlife conflict. Loss of nature is not only a conservation crisis. It is also a human crisis. When managed correctly, habitat and wildlife are critical resources that contribute to the economic and social health of communities, nations and the planet. Conversely, the loss of habitat created by growing economies and increasing populations has devastating effects on human welfare and on economies. The Wildlife Economy Initiative has been created to address that imbalance.

The African Union and UN Environment will advance political and community leadership, private sector know-how and financial resources for a new vision of pan-African conservation that will deliver sustainable economic benefit to nation states and local communities. The initiative will work to develop the true value of nature and the role it can play in the well-being of citizens.

“Africans need to take the lead, in partnership with like-minded global organisations, in the conservation agenda on our continent, because it affects all of us directly. Driving conservation will allow us to get the most out of our continent’s assets, contribute to better management of our agriculture and tourism sectors, and support efforts to mitigate climate change.”

Here’s what Richard Maasdorp had to say about the event:-

“This was an excellent networking opportunity. However, of major concern is that the mantra that tourism alone can fund conservation, anti-poaching and wildlife law enforcement was voiced loud and clear. This message is clearly wrong, (with a few exceptions of iconic National Parks), yet it is being transmitted throughout the world. The Zambezi Society, The Zambezi Elephant Fund and other enlightened conservation organisations have a great deal of work to do to correct this misperception.

Zambezi Society