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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Experts seek ways to stimulate wildlife economy in Africa 

KIGALI (Xinhua) -- Experts on Thursday discussed ways that can help stimulate the wildlife economy in Africa at a conservation meeting held in Rwandan capital Kigali, but the continent was also warned against habitat loss for wildlife due to human encroachment.

The Business of Conservation Conference, running from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, draws top African chief executives, political leaders, investors, entrepreneurs and innovative conservationists to explore practical avenues to economic growth in Africa through wildlife conservation. 

The conference, co-organized by the Rwandan government and the School of Wildlife Conservation of Africa Leadership University, with campuses in Rwanda and Mauritius, will explore the intersection of business, economic development and conservation, according to organizers.

Fred Swaniker, founder and chief executive of the Africa Leadership University, outlined key areas to stimulate the wildlife economy.

These include finding ways to attract capital into wildlife, empowering communities around protected areas to generate income from wildlife, creating a new generation of leaders to drive wildlife economy, applying technology to improve efforts against poaching and illegal wildlife trade, setting appropriate economic policies that stimulate wildlife and providing incentives to invest in the wildlife economy to reap benefits from it.

There is wildlife potential in Africa that can guarantee sustainable wealth for the continent, he said.

While promoting the wildlife-pillared economy, the conference also heard that habitat loss due to agriculture, infrastructure and urbanization is becoming a serious threat to wildlife conservation efforts in Africa.

Efforts to get rid of poaching have been at the center of wildlife protection and conservation in Africa, “but the threat remains the loss of natural habitat,” said Kaddu Sebunya, president of African Wildlife Foundation, at a panel discussion on the conference.

“If we don’t act fast and save wildlife habitat from human encroachment, wildlife in Africa will not survive, given present rates of habitat loss,” said Gautam Shah, founder and chief executive officer of Internet of Elephants, a wildlife conservation company based in Kenya.

The survival of Africa’s wildlife is dependent on large, wild protected lands and requires a deliberate choice by African governments to protect habitat for them, he said.

According to African Wildlife Foundation, a rapidly rising human population accompanied by infrastructure development and rising levels of consumption will make it ever more challenging to find room for wildlife in the next 100 years. 

 

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