Dale Lewis started out as an elephant researcher in Zambia and segued naturally into conservation. When traditional conservation strategies didn't work, he and his Zambian team took a radical new approach: starting a business to provide good markets for farmers willing to quit poaching.
Millions of rural farmers across much of Africa live far from markets and are forced to scratch out a bare subsistence living. Desperate for income, farmers often fall prey to markets that concentrate wealth in urban centers, suck up resources, and degrade their land. Dale and his team had seen the failures of both conventional rural development and traditional conservation. COMACO helps isolated subsistence farmers and beleaguered wildlife at the same time., by turning poachers into farmers through access to markets; they assist poor farmers in return for "conservation farming" -- no poaching, no burning or clearing, and good soil management.