Wildlife research and development
Cumming, David H.M.
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Wildlife as legitimate, viable and competitive land-use is now well established in several southern African countries. Zimbabwe played a leading and pioneering role in developing wildlife as a land-use in both commercial and communal farming sectors and by 1990 it covered 22 per cent of the country (Cumming, 1991a). By the late 1980s, the wildlife-based tourism industry was the fastest growing sector of the economy and ranked fourth in its contribution to gross domestic product. An important feature of the wildlife sector was that it generated wealth, and particularly foreign exchange earnings, from marginal lands and provided incentives to conserve the country’s wildlife heritage and biodiversity.203 This is possible because, unlike meat, milk and hides, wildlife’s main revenue earning products are service-based and only loosely coupled to rainfall and plant production. Importantly, extensive wildlife production systems maintain ecosystem services and retain options for future development.