Typical quotas
Buffaloes and large antelopes2%
Small antelopes3%
Elephants 1%
Zebras 6%
Lions and Leopards 5%
Impala cull, cleaning skins
Cleaning skins from culled impala - impala are plentiful and meat and skins are sold for cash
Useful web sites:
    A comprehensive site explaining the work of CAMPFIRE from its general aims to individual projects.

  • The Spring edition of GEN featured the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, available from the opening screen. Their web site is at www.sdnp.org.gy/iwokrama/
  • Focus on Sustainable Development

    Case Study: CAMPFIRE, Zimbabwe

    Map of Zimbabwe
    (Click for a larger image)

    Almost 5 million people live in arid and semi-arid communal lands covering almost half of Zimbabwe. Despite the dryness and difficult conditions, a wide range of wildlife is also found here. CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) is a programme designed to assist rural development and conservation. It works with the people who live in these communal lands, supporting the use of wildlife as an important natural resource. CAMPFIRE is helping people in these areas manage the environment in ways which are both sustainable and appropriate.

    National Parks

    Today 12% of Zimbabwe is protected as conservation areas or National Parks. Some animal species have prospered so much in the protected areas that they are causing serious environmental damage e.g. elephants. Some species are also suffering genetic problems because of inbreeding.

    Many local people were evicted from their homes when the Parks were created. Most now live in the surrounding communal lands. They are no longer permitted to hunt the animals and harvest the plants now found inside protected areas. However, animals frequently roam outside Park boundaries, destroying crops and killing livestock and sometimes people. This has created much conflict between local people and National Park staff, often resulting in illegal hunting. Local people generally consider wildlife to be a nuisance, not a resource.

    Over 100 people have been killed by elephants or buffaloes in Kariba since 1980.

    Elephant population in Zimbabwe
    A typical maternal elephant group, Hwange National Park

    CAMPFIRE - raising awareness and raising money

    The CAMPFIRE movement, designed and managed entirely by Africans, began in the mid 1980's. It encourages local communities to make their own decisions about wildlife management and control. It aims to help people manage natural resources so that plants, animals and people - the whole ecosystem - all benefit. It helps provide legal ways for such communities to raise money by using local, natural resources in a sustainable way. As a result, many communities now actively protect local wildlife, seeing it as a valuable asset. In some areas locals have even provided them with emergency food and water in times of shortage.

    Five main activities help provide extra income to local communities:

    • Trophy hunting: About 90% of CAMPFIRE's income comes from selling hunting concessions to professional hunters and safari operators working to set government quotas. Individual hunters pay high fees to shoot elephant (US$12,000) and buffalo and are strictly monitored, accompanied by local, licensed professionals. Trophy hunting is considered to be the ultimate form of ecotourism, as hunters usually travel in small groups, demand few amenities, cause minimal damage to the local ecosystem, yet provide considerable income.
    • Selling live animals: this is a fairly recent development. Some areas with high wildlife populations sell live animals to National Parks or game reserves e.g. Guruve district raised US$ 50,000 by selling 10 roan antelope.
    • Harvesting natural resources: a number of natural resources e.g. crocodile eggs, caterpillars, river-sand and timber are harvested and sold by local communities. Skins and ivory can be sold from 'problem animals' (individual animals who persistently cause damage or threat and can legally be killed).
    • Tourism: in the past most revenue from tourists has not gone to local communities. During the 1990's pilot projects have been set up and 5 districts now benefit from tourism. Development of specialist areas e.g. culture tourism, bird watching and visits to hot springs are planned. Some local people are employed directly as guides or run local facilities for tourists.
    • Selling wildlife meat: where species are plentiful e.g. impala, the National Parks Department supervise killing and selling of skins and meat. However, this only raises fairly small sums of money.

    Typical arid landscape and rural settlement in N.Zimbabwe (Bikita District)


    Each village taking part in the CAMPFIRE project (now covering 26 districts) has a wildlife committee responsible for counting animals, anti-poaching activities, conflicts which arise through 'problem animals' and environmental education. Game scouts are trained to help stop poaching and manage wildlife.


    For hunting concessions to be granted and wildlife managed sustainably, local communities need to monitor their wildlife populations and manage their habitats, protecting them from poaching or alternative forms of land use e.g. farming. Every year the Department of National Parks helps to estimate the wildlife population totals so that sustainable quotas can be set.

    Counting can be carried out in a number of ways. One (expensive) way of counting large animals e.g. elephants, is by aerial survey. WWF carries out aerial surveys every 2 years in some districts with high elephant populations; every 5 years in districts with smaller numbers. Other data is provided by professional hunters and tour operators who know local populations particularly well. Villages also carry out surveys, mapping sightings on a monthly basis. This includes the type, number and sex of each animal (where possible).

    Workshops are held annually so that all data can be shared and estimates made for the year. These, plus the carrying capacity for each area, form the basis for setting sustainable quotas for hunting and harvesting. At present quotas are issued by the Department for National Parks.

    Tour operators must, by law, keep detailed records of animals killed e.g. size, weight, length of certain animals and/or horns and tusks. This helps check that young animals are not being taken, putting future numbers at risk. New quotas are not issued until operators produce these records for analysis by the Department for National Parks. Local communities may also apply to kill (or sell concessions on) what are known as 'problem animals'.

    Where the money goes

    Income is collected and distributed by District Councils, using guidelines produced by CAMPFIRE. They suggest that:

    • 80% of the money is given directly to local communities who should collectively decide how it should be spent
    • 20% is used by the District Councils for administration and managing the local CAMPFIRE projects

    District Councils are accountable to the government via the Department for National Parks. Over US$1.4 million was raised by 26 Districts which ran CAMPFIRE projects in 1993, although amounts vary considerably from project to project.

    In good years money is used for the general community e.g. building and equipping clinics and schools, constructing fences, drilling wells, building roads, paying guides and funding local sports teams. In bad, usually drought, years money is given directly to local people or used to buy maize and other foodstuffs. Since 1989 over 250,000 Zimbabweans have been involved in CAMPFIRE projects.

    Elephant stretching to feed on acacia foliage; many trees have been damaged or destroyed by elephants
    Click for a larger image

    Some examples of CAMPFIRE projects:

    • Binga District (N.W.Zimbabwe) had just 13 primary schools in 1980 with most of its people living in poverty. Money from hunting concessions, fishing and tourism was used by Sinkatenge village (near Matusadona National Park) to build a 12km length of electric fencing to enclose their fields, preventing animals from trampling their crops and providing full time work for two local people to maintain it. Today the District has 56 primary and 9 secondary schools, health clinics and wells as a result of income from CAMPFIRE projects.
    • Masoka in the north east was one of the first to join CAMPFIRE. Local people now receive more than four times their previous income via hunting concessions, using it to buy maize and other food in drought years, building a clinic, buying a tractor and funding their football team. For the first time here, local rural women were employed, working on CAMPFIRE projects. CAMPFIRE is also actively encouraging women to participate in community decision-making, something which has been traditionally dominated by men. Women have also been encouraged to attend workshops and take part in training schemes.
    • Nyaminyama District (southern edge of L.Kariba) is introducing land use zoning with specific areas for wildlife conservation, tourism, crocodile breeding and hunting.

    A recent WWF report estimated that CAMPFIRE has increased incomes in communal areas by up to 25%.

    The Future

    "Conservation and CAMPFIRE: The way forward

    There are many advantages to the community-based management approach adopted by CAMPFIRE:

    • communal lands can act as game corridors between existing National Parks, protecting the genetic diversity of wild species
    • it creates jobs - local people are trained and become involved as environmental educators, game scouts etc
    • it prompts environmental education and promotes the benefits of wildlife conservation to communities
    • it provides an incentive for people to conserve wild species
    • it generates funds, which are used for community projects or to supplement household incomes
    • it creates more revenues for wildlife management and conservation projects in areas that would otherwise not receive adequate financial support for conservation

    In order to advance CAMPFIRE conservation efforts, further technical assistance will be needed by rural communities. They would also benefit from secure land tenure and rights over their wildlife. In addition, the ability of CAMPFIRE to assist wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe depends on several wider factors:

    • the acceptance of hunting as a wildlife management tool by the international community
    • placing economic value on wild species
    • exploring different ways of realising that value, such as through wildlife tourism, trophy hunting and game ranching "

    (source: CAMPFIRE web site http://www.campfire-zimbabwe.org)

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