Throughout Africa, more than 70% of rural people rely on natural resources for their livelihoods. Our, knowledge, skills and experience of sustainably managing our wild resources, in existence before colonialism and post independence, have
come to be known as Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM). CBNRM is now recognised as a highly effective intervention in increasing wildlife populations and enhanced rural livelihoods, improved governance and strengthening of participatory democratic practices.

Despite this, we have limited rights over these resources, increasing our vulnerability to poverty, depletion of the natural resource base, including soils, water, forests, grasslands and wildlife, on which we depend. At the same time, the growing impacts of the climate crisis are hitting our communities hardest while the rush for large infrastructure projects and other developments is disenfranchising our communities.

As rural people, we are rarely involved in policy making at international, regional and national levels that affect our rights and ultimately our livelihoods. The loudest voices against our rights are those of distant and powerful groups, far removed from our lived realities and with power and resources to influence policies that ultimately do not reflect our concerns and needs.

Without ownership of wildlife and the natural environment we have little incentive to manage natural resources sustainably. The world must realise that we play an important role in managing ecosystems and thus, our primary objective is to ensure we are heard.