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Sunday 6th February 2011
A while ago, I wrote a blog on another website asking the question – Whose wildlife is it anyway?
Consider the question carefully. Our collective nations duly attend Conventions on Biodiversity where politicians express woe at the constant loss of species on our planet and “promise” to do more to save them. At CITES conferences the impact of trade in greatly distressed wildlife species is discussed and then disregarded. The IUCN sits back and refuses to upgrade species to their due endangered status - as those species have not lost enough members over the last artificially IUCN designated number of years to “qualify”. Certain conservation organizations produce glossy reports based on hype and spin and there is little positive progress.
Is it really “our” heritage?
Meanwhile, we are losing our collective wildlife heritage at a great rate. Or is it really ours to consider collective? The answer would appear to be no.
Despite our wish to conserve global biodiversity, it is individual nations who are entrusted with the care of species within their borders. Some do well, and others do very badly. For those that do badly, well, it is your country, but just let the rest of us know that you have other priorities. It would save money and effort that could be spent elsewhere for greater positive outcomes. But meanwhile you will be held accountable.
African nations rely on utilization by tourists and hunters to justify the existence of their wildlife. In the absence of utilization it has no value they say, and we are all supposed to accept that. Meanwhile, huge amounts of dollars and euros and pounds are donated to the concept of conservation.
Tanzania especially seems to be souring on any such concept. Over the past years, many facts have emerged that should lead us to suspect that the Government has either given up on efforts to conserve wildlife and forests, or is cashing in on what remains for short-term gain. Among these reports are the following:
• Many tonnes of illegal ivory shipments have been seized in Hong Kong for example, all originating from Tanzania. This indicates not only a very high level of elephant “poaching” (can it be called poaching if the Government is involved?) but also a very high level of complicity by wildlife authorities and customs officials at least. It would seem to me difficult to ship container loads of ivory out of a country unless aided and abetted by authorities?
Tanzania is not alone
There are probably more examples than these that can be given to reinforce my opinion that Tanzania has opted away from interest in terms of conserving wildlife. I hasten to add that in Africa there is a depressingly long list of similarly uninterested countries from North to South and from West to East. To LionAid the seeming trend in Tanzania is especially worrisome as this country was considered 10 years ago as home to the largest number of lions on the continent. Maybe not anymore, as nobody knows the current status?
So I come back to my statement – whose wildlife is it? Is wildlife a world heritage involving a responsibility for those nations like Tanzania that still have significant populations to conserve for all? As a national responsibility even without the input of finance from international tourism? Maybe. African nations will not conserve just because their delegation has attended a world Biodiversity Conference. If they express an interest to adopt a realistic and positive long-term conservation vision backed by their active promise of involvement it is up to us to support and aid. But as I said above, please let us know if your nation does not want to participate and give us your reasons why. Clarity always makes for better informed decisions where to place funding, tourism, and effort?
Picture credit: http://www.alexhoffordphotography.com/node/2281
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Posted by Pieter Kat at 20:48
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