COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation)
Another project that Conservation Force partners in is COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation) in Zambia. This is a project that first identifies, then transforms poachers to alternative livelihoods at the cost of less than $700 per poacher. This conservation and development strategy was devised by Dale Lewis of WCS. It was initially funded by Conservation Force with the help of two of our donor partners, the International Foundation for the Conservation of Wildlife (Prince H.I.H. Abdorezza of Iran) and Kevin Malone. Today it is a much broader-reaching project than those early days and is funded by an assortment of partners.
In 2007 Conservation Force again stepped into the picture with the purpose of expanding the project into the habitat of the ESA "threatened" listed red lechwe. We did that with funds from our Ranching for Restoration Program in Texas which directs funds from participating ranches in Texas to enhancement projects for specific hunted exotics to on-the-ground projects around the world for those same select species. In 2007 the sum from Conservation Force was $10,000, which WCS was able to get others to match for a total of $20,000. In 2008 the sum from Conservation Force was again $10,000 which is being matched by hunting operators in Zambia and a tourist operator as well for a total of $30,000.
It's too early to analyze the population trend of red lechwe, but the results of the project in the existing areas are clear. Animal populations that had been declining are now documented to be increasing. Although all the populations were in decline before, no significant decrease can any longer be found. Many of the species are showing increases (see here).
By any measure, this is the foremost red lechwe conservation project in the world. It was initiated and is funded primarily by hunting and hunters. Conservation Force's other Ranching for Restoration projects include the Eld's deer and barasingha species. Those too are the foremost projects in the world for those ESA and CITES-listed species. We are building the ranch base in the United States and expanding the projects in the countries of the respective species' origin. It is truly a Conservation Force conservation invention that others have not yet managed to mimic.