Project Purpose

Purpose & methodology


We seek to understand how wildlife-based land uses contribute to sustainable land management, socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. Such understanding will help to inform policy discussions between the wildlife industry and national government. Ultimately, we hope to use the information to holistically value the contributions of the sector to sustainable development and design programmes that promote inclusive growth within the wildlife ranching sector.


  1. Build an evidence base for the impacts of wildlife economies on natural capital and sustainable development

  2. Employ and equip recent graduates with skills to find work in the wildlife economy

  3. Reframe wildlife ranching as agro-ecological working lands for policy design and implementation

  4. Fill critical information gaps for decision-makers and practitioners

  5. Create public awareness of SA's unique wildlife economy and the importance of sustainable use to biodiversity conservation

General process

  1. Develop an integrated survey template

  2. Train resource auditors

  3. Conduct field surveys

  4. Analyse data and develop knowledge products

  5. Hold a learning exchange

  6. Strategically adapt methodology for future surveys

Policy & practice relevance

Designing inclusive wildlife economies

We are working to break down the silos between governmental programmes that seek to redress economic inequality by creating knowledge products that can assist in crafting viable enterprises for new market entrants and land reform beneficiaries. We are surveying community members and beneficiaries to understand the obstacles that prevent wildlife-based economic activities being integrated into rural economies, and the opportunities that exist to unlock greater job creation in the sector.

Informing balanced conversations

We want to build an objective evidence base to enable a balanced public policy debate on sustainable use and provide verified information for decision-making. We want to identify trade-offs between values at different scales and educate the youth on the opportunties within the wildlife economy for employment and innovation.

Responding to high-level policy processes

Our data will feed into ongoing high-level policy design and implementation, such as initiatives under the Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Lab of 2016. Our work corresponds to goals laid out in the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy and Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan.

Building decision-support tools

We are building an evidence database from the scientific literature that will complement the in-field data collection, allowing us to identify important evidence gaps for the effectiveness of key interventions and build decision support tools that will best serve different stakeholder groups. This database is modelled on the Conservation Evidence Project and several meta-analyses of the evidence are being planned.

Towards a national baseline database

We are planning further surveys

We have applied for a number of funding sources to continue the work and expand our survey to the other 8 provinces to create a wall-to-wall dataset to inform national policy. We are currently working on an initial recce into Limpopo in June 2021.

If you are a landowner, please click here to participate. Your contribution is invaluable in shaping the future of South Africa's wildlife economy.