Known as COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation), the program began in Zambia in 2003 and has resulted in wildlife populations stabilizing and rebounding in areas once ravaged by poaching. In addition, local people – including some of the world's poorest farmers – are now benefitting from higher crop yields and improved livelihoods.
The study appears in the August 23rd edition of PNAS. Authors include Dale Lewis, Mwangala Mukamba of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Makondo Kabila; Samuel Bell, Kim Bothi, Lydia Gatere, Carmen Moraru, Johannes Lehman, James, Lassoie, David Wolfe, David Lee, Louise Buck, and Alexander Travis of Cornell University; John Fay of the University of Cape Town; and Edwin Matokwaani and Matthews Mushimbalume of the Zambian Wildlife Authority.
The COMACO program teaches rural villagers – including former poachers – sustainable agriculture methods that improve crop yields while reducing deforestation. COMACO then helps them earn more by adding value to crops, such as selling peanut butter instead of peanuts. Importantly, the program provides access to national and international commodity and retail markets. COMACO links membership in the cooperative business with wildlife conservation by having new participants turn in their guns and snares and by monitoring of the sustainable practices.
"COMACO represents a pragmatic solution to several related problems that plague rural Africa: poverty, deforestation, and loss of wildlife," said the study's lead author and COMACO founder Dale Lewis of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "This study documents COMACO's initial successes and outlines some of the challenges that lie ahead to ensure the program's long-term success."
Since 2003, the program has trained more than 40,000 farmers. More than 61,000 wire snares and 1,467 guns have been voluntarily turned in by participants. The program has expanded from two locations in the Luangwa Valley to a growing network of sites surrounding national parks, providing a buffer of reduced poaching and snare use.
As part of the study, aerial surveys show that wildlife including zebra, wildebeest, eland and other species have stabilized or are increasing following steady declines in the 1980s and 1990s from rampant poaching.
"COMACO shows how conservation can and should work," said John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science. "Conservation cannot function without the buy-in of local people, and this is a shining example of how that goal can be achieved with impressive results for both people and wildlife."
In addition to environmental benefits, the study showed that COMACO farmers, particularly women, had higher crop yields than their non-COMACO peers. In response, many non-COMACO farmers are now adopting sustainable farming methods, learning from their COMACO-trained neighbors. Consequently, soil quality has improved with higher soil carbon on sustainable farms than on conventional farms.
As a business, COMACO is diversifying its products and markets. An important example is production of high-energy protein supplements sold to Catholic Relief Services and the World Food Programme for feeding orphans, HIV patients and refugees.
These efforts have allowed COMACO to move consistently toward an economic break-even point.
"They are trying to do something that very few wildlife and social interventions have ever dreamed of, which is to become self-sufficient," said co-author Alexander Travis of Cornell University's Baker Institute for Animal Health.
Funding for COMACO has been provided by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Mulago Foundation, Jasmine Foundation, Lundin for Africa, CARE International, General Mills, William Lloyd, and Harvey and Heidi Bookman. Research funding was provided by USAID and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences