Devil’s Claw Harvesting

Devil’s Claw (harpagophytum sp) is a protected plant in Namibia and permits are required to harvest and sell it.  Extracts from the roots of the plant act as an anti-inflammatory and are widely used in Europe and elsewhere in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.  Namibia is the largest supplier of devil’s claw in the world. In both the Nyae Nyae & N≠a Jaqna conservancies the sustainable harvesting and sale of Devil’s Claw makes a vital contribution to income generation for their members and conservancy management. 

A large portion of income for both conservancies is derived from wildlife and tourist related activities. However, due to the Covid 19 pandemic income from these sources has been significantly reduced making income from other sources increasingly important. Cash income from devil’s claw is essential for the conservancy members to pay for basic needs, which includes food, transport, clothes, healthcare, and schooling.

Devils Claw Flower

The support provided by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia enables conservancy members to generate cash income from the sustainable harvesting of devil’s claw. Specifically, support has been provided in the areas of contract negotiations, training and monitoring.

The approach focuses on empowering individual harvesters to produce a top-quality product while at the same time ensuring that sustainable harvesting methods are used. Each year post-harvest impact assessments are carried out by Community Based Natural Resource Rangers in selected harvesting areas to determine compliance with sustainable harvesting methods.

Devils Claw Roots

Devil’s Claw harvesting in the Nyae Nyae and N≠a Jaqna conservancies is essential for Wildlife conservation in two ways. Firstly, diversified livelihood opportunities and increased ability to cater for basic needs are known to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and secondly Devil’s Claw harvesters and rangers spend more times in areas that are not easily monitored, and are therefore more likely to detect irregularities.

The devil’s claw from both conservancies is certified organic which ensures that the product is fully traceable, sustainably harvested and processed according to internationally recognised standards. For the period 2020/2021 just over 1000 harvesters have earned a direct income of about 4 million Namibian dollars. Devil’s claw harvesting also makes a considerable contribution to income opportunities for women who make up just over 50% of the registered harvesters.

Devils Claw Roots Sliced

Financial support from the IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative, co-funded by the European Union, has contributed significantly to the achievement of these results.

With the support of IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative, co funded by the European Union

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.

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IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative

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