Sustainable Wildlife Economies Project 


We have mapped the viable business models of the wildlife economy

We assessed several important socioeconomic contributions of diverse wildlife-based business models, defined by their main revenue-generating activities, within the South African wildlife ranching industry, and the financial viability of these models. We used a hierarchical clustering analysis to delineate six wildlife ranching business models. These included three more specialized models: ecotourism, trophy hunting, and wildlife breeding, and three more mixed models: mixed hunting (i.e., both meat and trophy hunting), mixed wildlife-agriculture, and trophy hunting-game meat. 

For more detail and results of the socioeconomic analysis, see our upcoming paper: Denner, Clements, Child, de Vos. In press. Conservation, Science and Practice

We have provided sector-wide information to DFFE

Working with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), we have produced sector-wide information on the wildlife economy for both investors and new market entrants, as well as infographics on the attributes of various business models. We hope this information will be used to help structure business plans and facilitate investment into expanding wildlife economy enterprises. See the Biodiversity Economy Investment Platform for more detail. 

Key refeferences used: 1. Saayman, M., van der Merwe, P. & Saayman, A. The economic impact of trophy hunting in the south African wildlife industry. Glob. Ecol. Conserv. 16, e00510 (2018).. 2. Taylor, W. A., Lindsey, P. A., Nicholson, S. K., Relton, C. & Davies-Mostert, H. T. Jobs, game meat and profits: The benefits of wildlife ranching on marginal lands in South Africa. Biol. Conserv. 245, 108561 (2020). 3. ALU. State of the Wildlife Economy in Africa - Case study - South Africa. (2020). 4. Clements, H. S., Baum, J. & Cumming, G. S. Money and motives: an organizational ecology perspective on private land conservation. Biol. Conserv. 197, 108–115 (2016). 5. Taylor, W. A. et al. South Africa’s private wildlife ranches protect globally significant populations of wild ungulates. Biodivers. Conserv. 30, 4111–4135 (2021). 6. Shumba, T., De Vos, A., Biggs, R., Esler, K. J. & Clements, H. S. The influence of biophysical and socio-economic factors on the effectiveness of private land conservation areas in preventing natural land cover loss across South Africa. Glob. Ecol. Conserv. 28, e01670 (2021). 

The Limpopo phase of the project has been concluded - thanks to all those who participated!

We are currently designing phase 3 of the project...



Surveys conducted

862 K

Hectares assessed


Young people employed 

Our goal is to generate knowledge that will help design sustainable, innovative and inclusive wildlife economies

We also seek to create skilled employment in the conservation sector, fill critical information gaps for policy-makers and practitioners, and create public awareness of South Africa's unique biodiversity economy. 

We have formed a great consortium of partners to achieve this!

We conducted a pilot study in the Eastern Cape from Feb - March 2021 and are now preparing to upscale.



Surveys conducted

852 K

Hectares assessed


Young people employed 


How many field assistants does it take to move a buffalo? As many as possible apparently! The SANBI field assistants received some practical wildlife ranching training when they were enlisted to help move a darted buffalo to its new home during the surveys conducted in June. 

Meet our team and hire them!

We have equipped these bright, young and passionate students with the skills and knowledge to make positive contributions to the biodiversity economy. So if you need any talented up-and-coming scientists for your enterprise, please let us know or find them through our employment portal!