CAMPFIRE Project Zimbabwe

Following the passage of the Parks and Wildlife Act of 1975, the ownership of wildlife in Zimbabwe transitioned from being property of the state to being communal property of the people. This left a significant portion of communally owned land that was insufficient for agricultural use but had unmanaged wildlife inhabiting it. As a consequence, USAID started to fund the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources. The purpose of the project was to empower the Zimbabweans who lived near these communally owned wildlife areas by encouraging tourism to the region and by providing funds for wildlife ecology research. The project enables hunters to pay an extensive fee to be allowed to kill one large game animal, most often an elephant. The idea behind the project is that while some individuals of at-risk species would be killed, the longevity of these species would be secured by the funds received, as the hunted meat and profits would be given to the local communities for the development of schools, clinics, and wildlife research facilities. The CAMPFIRE project was the first community-based wildlife conservation project to approach wildlife as a renewable, profitable resource, and it serves as a model for some other indigenous conservation projects in Africa.

Contributed by Sophia Callahan
Course: Modern Global Environmental History
Instructor: Dr. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
University of Wisconsin–Madison, US

Further Readings: 
  • Frost, Peter, and Ivan Bond. "The CAMPFIRE Programme in Zimbabwe: Payments for Wildlife Services." Ecological Economics 65, no. 4 (2008): 776–87.
  • Mutandwa, Edward, and Christopher Tafara Gadzirayi. "Impact of Community-Based Approaches to Wildlife Management: Case Study of the CAMPFIRE Programme in Zimbabwe." International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 14, no. 4 (2007): 336–44.