Welcome to Pieter Kat's official LionAid blog. Here you can follow Pieter's opinions, thoughts, insights and ideas on saving lions.
Thursday 5th May 2011
A recent report published by Nigel Leader-Williams (at the time with the University of Kent, now at Cambridge) and co-authors has much to say about the conduct of trophy hunters and their pals in the government of Tanzania. The title of their report says it all: “The Influence of Corruption on the Conduct of Recreational Hunting”. You can read the full report here.
Readers of my blogs will not really gain anything from this report that has not been said before, but let’s explore a new avenue – the NGO’s are partially responsible. Yes indeed, those nice folks that you support with donations and taxes… But read below what Leader-Williams et al have to say, and then we will discuss a little further:
• In terms of conservation, corruption is neither restricted to recreational hunting, nor to Tanzania. While further research is needed, the negative consequences of endemic and systemic corruption are well enough understood to initiate some actions. However, reform of alleged corruption in recreational hunting will prove easier to articulate than to implement, as in Tanzania. Indeed, senior officials and elected politicians will resist changes to the status quo because of the wealth they accrue from current practices in recreational hunting. Given their power, reform of corrupt practices is unlikely to come from public officials and elected politicians within countries with poor governance. Therefore, what avenues are open to reform the governance of recreational hunting?
So there you have the well-considered conclusions in the report. As I said above, nothing new really. We all know by now that hunting operators work very well in countries where corruption and bribery are the norms. They benefit, their friends in government benefit, and the local communities had better put up with it.
However, the report does identify an area of potential weakness for this profitable and friendly relationship that now exists among some parties – the NGOs operating in the country that actually fund much of the supposed push towards enabling communities. To name some of the big ones in Tanzania, these are the African Wildlife Foundation (HQ in Washington D.C.), the Zoological Society of London, the Wildlife Conservation Society (HQ in New York – the Bronx Zoo), USAID, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (the German development agency), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and many others. The AWF has already been named in many reports as turning a blind eye to corruption and government excesses, but they are an independently funded organization. Germany, the USA, and Norway are using public funds to support ongoing specious activities. The report asks – if these organizations stop such funding, where else would they spend their money? I can think of a better question – if these organizations demand better governance (which they are obliged to do by laws in their own countries), would the recipients act more accountably?
All of this funding is doing little except to maintain the status quo. Who among the NGOs will turn around and say – we have given you millions, now can you please account for them and show us progress like true community involvement? But sadly, that is not how NGOs currently work.
Conservation functions on many different levels we are told. But supporting corrupt governments and operators should not be one of them. And you reading this can actually do something about how the NGOs spend their money. Be involved and be active, ask questions and get informed!
Posted by Pieter Kat at 23:46
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