Conserving wildlife in Africa … a conservation success impossible without international hunting

Emmanuel Koro

Why should rural African communities coexisting with wildlife and receiving no benefit from it care about the conservation of wildlife that damages their crops, kills their livestock, their loved ones and destroys their property?

This is the key wildlife conservation question that all African states had to answer when they took over from colonial rulers who forced rural communities to coexist with wildlife to conserve it, despite the fact that they did not benefit from it.

Under independent Africa it was always going to be undemocratic, human rights violation, political suicide and disaster for wildlife conservation for any government to force rural people sharing land with wildlife to conserve wildlife without benefiting from it. . Communities would predictably refuse to conserve wildlife that does not benefit them, as happened in colonial times.

“Decades of colonialism in Africa have alienated its people from their traditional use of wildlife,” said SADC Wildlife Technical Coordination Unit Chairman Matthew Matemba in his foreword to the Conference Proceedings. Regional on Natural Resource Management, held in the tourist town of Kasane in Botswana. in 1995.

“The majority of poachers found themselves in the hands of ‘game wardens’ and eventually went to the gallows. This situation sparked decades of antagonism and resentment between the so-called “game wardens” and local communities.

Communities coexisting with wildlife protested the lack of benefits by poaching it.

This demonstrates that resistance from the authorities is a key element in maintaining the viability of poaching, ”said Richard Fynn and Oluwatoyin Kolawole in their recent commentary titled“ Poaching and the Conservation Problem in Africa ”.

Richard Fynn and Oluwatoyin Kolawole said poaching, as an act of resistance, is carried out through informal rural social networks. They hide and even encourage poachers and middlemen to poach “game and buy rhino meat, ivory and horn”.

Most independent African states were aware of the wildlife conservation resistance they would face if they did not coexist communities with the wildlife that derive direct benefits from international hunting. To avoid a wildlife conservation disaster, international hunting has become a widely accepted solution to wildlife conservation in independent African countries, especially in wildlife-rich southern African countries.

Therefore, in 1995, SADC’s natural resource management program was used to shape a future where international hunting should be included in the region’s wildlife and habitat conservation program.

“It was quite clear during the Proceedings of the Kasane SADC Natural Resources Management Program that the participation of the local community in the management of wildlife resources [including direct benefits from international hunting] not only restored decades of lost trust in states, but also a strong sense of responsibility and ownership of wildlife by rural communities, ”said Matemba, the chair of SADC natural resource management.

Cooperation

Today, international hunting is practiced with great support and success in conserving wildlife and the habitat of rural communities coexisting with and benefiting wildlife, in African states involved in international hunting. Such community cooperation in wildlife conservation has resulted in a decrease in poaching and an increase in wildlife populations. This was revealed in presentations from government, safari hunting companies and representatives of rural communities who attended the Safari Club International Foundation African Wildlife Advisory Forum in Victoria Falls in November 2019.

“It must be understood that hunting is the economic engine of the sustainable conservation of iconic wildlife,” said Antoine Spillmann, CEO of Safari Club International, Swiss office, in an article published in September 2020 entitled “Trophy Hunting”. “In the United States, game wardens’ salaries come from state conservation services, which are largely funded by hunting-related revenues.”

The socio-economic benefits of international wildlife hunting that coexisting wildlife communities receive in post-independent Africa include funding for the construction of much-needed rural infrastructure ranging from roads, clinics, schools and boreholes. .

Notably, Western animal rights groups are the greatest threat to the success of African wildlife conservation in Africa. In order to raise millions of dollars that are barely sent to Africa to support ‘wildlife conservation’, they propagate that international hunting threatens wildlife with extinction, then seek financial donations to support their fashions. of high life and not to conserve wildlife in Africa. A ban on international hunting would block the flow of income from international hunting to the African continent. This threatens to suppress both the socio-economic and conservation benefits of wildlife and habitat that international hunting brings.

Progressive hunting

Despite opposition from Western animal rights groups, international hunting is an internationally recognized method of wildlife management and conservation. The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) allows the hunting of all wildlife, including endangered species as long as they are not harmful to the species. population hunted. The old wild bulls that no longer have any reproductive value are the ones that are hunted. When old male predators are no longer able to actively hunt their own prey, they begin to move into rural communities for easy prey, including humans and livestock. This increases conflicts between humans and wildlife. This is the other reason why such animals must be trimmed.

Unfortunately, Kenya is working against international wildlife hunting. This goes against the will of the Kenyan people who coexist with and wish to benefit from wildlife.

Recently, the governor of Kajiado County in Kenya, Joseph ole Lenku, threatened to order his people to start killing wild animals unless they get much better benefits from wildlife conservation, ”he said. said Fynn and Kolawole.

Kenya’s self-inflicted wildlife conservation crisis is best evidenced by a sharp and continuing decline in its elephant population. Wildlife conservation experts say the crisis will never end until communities living next to Kenya’s national parks and nature reserves reap no benefits from hunting.

According to Ron Thomson, an African elephant management specialist based in South Africa, Kenya has been captured by Western animal rights groups. Mr Thomson said Kenya signed a nearly unbreakable anti-international hunting contract dating back to its independence from colonial rule in the 1960s, under which Western animal rights groups pledged to fund in permanently across Kenya Wildlife Services in exchange for a permanent international hunting ban.

“Kenya is at a stalemate and, even if they wanted to, they cannot get out of the influence of animal rights.”

The threat of the anti-international animal rights hunting culture in Africa is real. They captured Botswana under President Ian Khama who then banned international hunting in 2014. This has resulted in revenge killings against wildlife, lion poisoning and increased poaching. Local communities protested against the international ban on hunting in Khama. President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted the hunting ban in 2019 and kicked western animal rights groups out of Botswana.

Threats

However, the threat of an international anti-hunting ban dictatorship fueled by money from Western animal rights groups in Africa remains. Resident Western animal rights groups NGOs are reportedly using Kenya as a “launching pad” to expand the anti-international influence of the hunt on the continent.

However, they have failed to ban hunting in other East African countries, including Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda. In West Africa, they have not banned hunting in Cameroon. They have also failed to ban it in certain North African countries, notably in Morocco where 3,000 international hunters go hunting each year.

To persuade Kenya to lift the ban on international hunting, pro-international African countries, communities and NGOs have continued to present Kenya with the wildlife, habitat and socio-economic benefits that flow from international hunting.

At the start of the 21st century, rural communities in southern Africa, together with Mr. George Pangeti of Safari Club International and the Africa Resources Trust now called ResourceAfrica, invited Kenya to come and witness the need for international hunting to wildlife conservation in southern Africa. .

The entire Kenyan delegation which included representatives from government, politicians and rural communities and Kenya Television Network were impressed with the benefits of the hunt they witnessed. They visited the hunting communities of Hwange District in Zimbabwe, Maun and Chobe in Botswana and the hunting communities of the Caprivi Band in Namibia. Accompanied by their deputy environment minister, the Kenyans were to return home and recommend to parliament the introduction of international hunting as a necessity for wildlife conservation.

Sadly, this has never happened in a country that has long been captured by Western animal rights groups. He was ignored. It remains to be seen when Kenya learns that successful wildlife conservation is impossible in Africa without international hunting.

* Emmanuel Koro is an award-winning freelance environmental journalist based in Johannesburg who writes and has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

2021-08-05 Journalist

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