Economic instability

The loss of a country’s iconic wildlife directly reduces the number of wildlife tourists visiting the region and reflects significant potential losses to the GDP for many countries that are already among the world’s poorest.

Many African countries have prioritised tourism as a major sector for driving economic growth, employment creation and poverty reduction.  Therefore the poaching of elephant and rhino robs states and communities of their natural assets; it undermines sustainable economic development and has serious economic and social consequences, threatening the livelihoods of communities that are dependent on wildlife tourism and natural resource.

In the World Bank’s 2013 overview of tourism in Africa, it was stated that “…tourism can only be sustainable if the natural assets on which it is based are protected from degradation.  This is particularly true in Africa, which is variously marketed as a nature, wildlife, resort and cultural heritage destination.”

Sub Saharan Africa attracted 33.8 million visitors in 2012, generating over US$36 billion in revenue.  However, the loss of its iconic species will have a huge financial impact, and will also result in significant job losses; the tourism industry currently employs around 8 million people in Africa.

Criminal organisations / Political instability

A UNEP Rapid Response Assessment published in 2014 estimated the annual income from ivory to militias, operating in the entire Sub-Saharan range, to be in the order of US$ 4.0–12.2 million.

Some of the profit earned from the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn feeds in to well known terrorist organisations and finances insurgencies such as Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Sudanese Janjaweed, and is used to finance insurgencies.

“Well-organized and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn.”   

“Over the past few years, consumer use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. High levels of consumption – especially the escalating demand in Viet Nam – threaten to soon reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades.”

Mike Knight, Chairman of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group

horn and ivory