Saving African wildlife

Andrew Kenny.

The world’s greatest environmental threat, in my view, is to Africa’s disappearing wildlife.

Last Friday there were marches all over the world to protest against the killing of African elephants, at the estimated rate of 25 000 a year, which will soon lead to their extinction. There are two main dangers to African wildlife. The first is the disappearance of their habitat, which is being taken over by man.

The second is the killing of animals for parts of their bodies to be used as trinkets or bogus medicines. Elephants are shot for their tusks, used in ornaments, and rhino for their horns, used in totally useless muthi. The solution to the first is to make Africans richer.

The wildlife of Europe, including all of its lions, was largely wiped out by very poor hunter-gathers thousands of years ago. Much of the large wildlife of the Americas was wiped out by poor hunter-gathers crossing from Asia about 13 000 years ago.

It is poor African people who are taking the land of wild animals to use for their wasteful, inefficient subsistence farming. Poor people in undeveloped economies need far more land than rich people in developed ones. Africans must develop their economies, industrialise, move from the countryside to the cities and become wealthy.

This is what they want to do anyway (this is what most humans want to do), and we must find ways of encouraging it. A few Africans should run large, modern, commercial farms growing food for everybody else.

The cities would then take up a very small amount of land and the commercial farms a relatively small amount. The rest of the land should be handed back to nature, returned to the wonderful wildlife that owned it in the past and could now own it again.

The people who are actually killing the elephants and rhinos are poor. Making them rich would go a long way to solving this problem. However, their clients are rich criminals, mainly in Asia, who make a fortune by peddling the ivory and horns.

We must put huge pressure on Asian countries to stop these horrible villains and to educate their public about the evil and stupidity of their trade. For poor people, living wild animals are a liability and a danger.

For rich people they are an asset and a glory.

today in print

today in print