NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Conserving Through Free Markets In Africa

January 7, 1997

Privatizing and commercializing wildlife in order to conserve it is a growing trend throughout many parts of southern Africa. Backers of the movement say it is both good free market economics and good ecology. They say that if wildlife is seen as a long-term resource and not a nuisance, native groups will preserve and protect it.

  • The governments of a number of countries -- including Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia -- are seeking the repeal of a 1989 international ban on the trade of elephant ivory and hide.
  • They contend that since they have a surplus of elephants, poor rural populations ought to be able to profit from it.
  • One program currently operating in Zimbabwe confers, through a permit system, limited ownership rights for elephants and other game to indigenous populations living near game parks.

The percentage of Zimbabwe's land dedicated to game conservation has grown to more than 17 percent from 12 percent over the past ten years. South Africa, which had three large private game preserves ten years ago now has 25 large ones and many smaller game-ranching enterprises. Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia among others are also undergoing similar free-market transformations.

Source: Ken Walls, "The Hot New Slogan in African Game Circles is 'Use It or Lose It,'" Wall Street Journal, January 7, 1997.


Browse more articles on International Issues