Thursday, April 25, 2024
General Agriculture

The Economic Importance of Wildlife

Wildlife organisms vary in form, nature, and behavior or habit, and these ultimately relate to their economic value to man, with respect to the food supply, supply of raw materials, social and religious services, and monetary gains.

The benefits of wildlife are particularly numerous and significant to its socio-economic and environmental development.

Wildlife Definition

This refers to all non-domesticated plants, animals, and other organisms. The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF, 1965) defined wildlife as “all living things, plants, invertebrates and vertebrate animals outside the direct control of man, i.e. non-cultivated plants and non-domesticated animals”.

However, several wild plant and animal species have been domesticated for human benefit in all parts of the world with a major positive or negative impact on the environment. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems; it occurs in distinct forms in deserts, rainforests, plains, and other areas, such as the most developed urban sites.

Importance of Wildlife

 The Economic Importance of Wildlife

There are many benefits derived from wildlife conservation. They are categorized into food and raw material benefits, social services, monetary benefits, and cultural/religious benefits.

Food and raw material benefits include;

  • Edible meat (Bush meat), obtained through hunting and game, is highly valued as animal protein by most people in both rural and urban areas,
  • Raw materials for traditional medicine, including the aphrodisiac properties of wild species e.g. primates and pangolins,
  • Raw materials for clothing, local leather works, and making implements and weapons such as warm sleeping robes (e.g. muskox), shoes and local drums, and
  • Artwork (souvenirs) and craft works.

Social services benefits include;

  • Outdoor recreation, such as personal pleasure trek, hiking, feeding wild birds, hunting of big games, small mammals, upland birds, waterfowl hunting, sport fishing, canoeing, visits to the park, whale watching, seabird viewing, polar bear observation, wildlife photography, wildlife activities at home or cottage,
  • Outdoor laboratory for students studying ecology, animal behavior, and biologically-related courses. Wildlife is a common subject for educational TV shows all over the world, e.g. National Geographic Specials, BBC Natural History Programme, Animal Planet, NATURE and Nature Documentary,
  • Tourism and Ecotourism- fast becoming a popular industry generating substantial income for poor nations with rich wildlife, especially in Africa and India.
  • Membership in wildlife and nature organizations, and
  • Environmental protection through quality maintenance for the proper functioning of the biosphere and; the health of wildlife is an indication of the health of the environment, and
  • Inspiration of human activities such as legend, ceremony, art, music, dance, drama, story-telling, and poetry.

Read Also: Basic Principles of Forest Management

Monetary benefits include;

  • Gate fees from tourists to national parks/reserves,
  • Hunting permit,
  • Sales of animals (wild harvest generate income through job opportunities from the seasonal influx of visitors to wildlife and particularly from wildlife activities),
  • Export of live animals, and
  • Sport hunting e.g. hunting and non-commercial fishing.

Religious Benefits include;

The sacredness of certain animals in religious rituals due to their perceived spiritual significance in different cultures around the world e.g. muskox in Canada; eagles and hawks, and their feathers to Native Americans.

Generally, wildlife species play a key role in pollination, germination, seed dispersal, soil generation, nutrient recycling, predation, habitat maintenance, waste breakdown, and pest control.

It is important to science, agriculture, and medicine, especially the preservation of genetic diversity, development of new drugs (salicin from the bark of willow trees, taxol from the bark of western yew, etc.), and treatments.

The Economic Importance of Wildlife

Wildlife as a national heritage and natural endowment is very important in many respects. It has over the years, contributed significantly to the social, economic, and environmental development of the country. The benefits include:

  • Source of animal protein – Bushmeat is a principal source of animal protein for the rural majority around the world;
  • Game-viewing and Tourism – Two of the 36 wildlife reserves are currently open for game viewing and tourism. However, the zoos and museums existing in some states provide opportunities for recreation, picnics, parties, and education;
  • Revenue from export – Nigeria derives a substantial sum of foreign exchange from wildlife exports annually.
  • Employment opportunities and local participation – Local hunters are employed as game patrols and guards, who serve as anti-poaching groups, in addition to management appointments such as clerks, typists, drivers, and game scouts. Other local groups are involved in the conservation and development of reserves.
  • Education and research – These involve excursions to wildlife parks, zoos, and botanical gardens, research on the behavior of wildlife animals, and the use of common mammals such as rats and primates for ecological and immunological research in medical and science laboratories, ecological stability and perpetuation of the genetic pool.

Wildlife by-products- Numerous by-products of wild animals such as skins, feathers, beaks, horns, skulls, bones, eyes, spines, liver, eggs, and tails are used for different purposes. The uses include traditional medicine, sorcery, witchcraft, and folklore.

Read Also: Basic Principles of Forest Management

Read Also: The Concept of Animal Energy Balance in the Physical Environment

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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