Divergent Wildlife Conservation Perspectives in Africa

November 4, 2020

In African wildlife conservation, most documented experiences are from southern and south-eastern Africa; countries with well developed ‘wildlife industries’. Their voices and perspectives are dominant, but a new paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution presents divergent perspectives from West, Central and the Horn of Africa. WildCRU’s Hans Bauer and Claudio Sillero, in collaboration with 13 colleagues from seven different countries across these regions emphasise that conservation there is not based on ‘if it pays it stays’. While policy makers know the neoliberal theory, socio-economic reality has forced them to develop alternative perspectives. The authors argue that empathy towards multiple perspectives will lead to more coherence in African conservation policy and to increased resilience to COVID-19 and other crises.

In these countries, straddling Africa north of the Equator, wildlife makes substantial contributions to local livelihoods but not to national economies; most wildlife conservation activities depend on funding from donors working on sustainable development. Communities benefit from cultural values and ecosystem services, but in the regional context they cannot accrue much commercial value. Global commercialisation of wildlife commodities advocated by some southern African nations just increases the cost of wildlife protection. From the dominant perspective, this has often been described as a failure, but the scientists took a regional perspective to find a way forward.

Hans Bauer said: ‘We are not saying that one model is better than the other; conservation in southern Africa has generally been more effective, but it is less resilient to COVID and other crises. The two approaches must exist side-by-side; it is important that both sides of the equator are aware that recommendations for their region may have adverse impacts on the other side.’

Claudio Sillero added: ‘Across the Sahel habitats tend to be less productive, but there are important populations of key species such as buffalos, elephants, giant eland and gorillas and cases of successful conservation in key protected areas. Peace and stability are much greater challenges there than the current pandemic’.

Hans Bauer, Bertrand Chardonnet, Paul Scholte, Serge Alexis Kamgang, Djafarou Ali Tiomoko, Aristide Comlan Tehou, Brice Sinsin, Fikirte Gebresenbet, Addisu Asefa, Kadiri Serge Bobo, Hamissou Garba, Ali Laouel Abagana, Djibril Diouck, Ameer Awad Mohammed and Claudio Sillero-Zubiri (2020). Consider divergent regional perspectives to enhance wildlife conservation across Africa. Nature Ecology and Evolution.



  • Reedbuck with Warthog in foreground, Dinder National Park, Sudan.
  • Oribi, Dinder National Park, Sudan.
  • Moustached Monkey, Dinder National Park, Sudan.
  • Waterbuck, Dinder National Park, Sudan.