Wildlife conservation has been a contentious issue with indigenous communities for whom wildlife remains a valuable source of income. The people of Masoka, a village in northern Zimbabwe, have tried an alternate way of conservation that can boost Africans' standard of living as well as animal populations. Three years ago, each of Masoka's approximately 120 households earned us $450 from wildlife by selling their legal hunting rights to a safari operator, whose clients then paid him for hunting elephants near the village.
Consequently, the villagers' income multiplied five to tenfold. They have put the money to good use by building a medical clinic and an electric fence around the village which protects them and their crops from wild animals. Ever since Zimbabwe granted proprietorship over wildlife to landowners in 1982 and allowed hunting, its elephant population has increased to more than 68,000 from below 40,000. Whereas in Kenya, where all hunting was banned in 1977, the elephant population plunged from 167,000 to 16,000 between 1970 and 1989.