Graham Boynton remarked the following on Wildlife Conservation, “Wildlife preservation is crucial to the growth of African tourism. We must work together to ensure change happens.”
Things have been on the positive change since 2016 for African wildlife conservation, which has also helped grow tourism in Africa. Having endured a terrible couple of years of rhino and elephant poaching, where the numbers of these signature species have decreased dramatically, there are indications that NGOs, tourism organisations and even African governments are finally beginning to collaborate.
Poachers & Corrupt Officials
In his speech addressing the Tanzanian parliament, the President, John Pombe Magufuli, warned corrupt officials involved in the illicit ivory trade that he was coming after them. Tanzania has lost more than 60 percent of its elephants over the past five years, so direct and immediate action is required.
Similarly combative, the Kenyans are also taking a more bellicose stance. Wildlife Direct, the conservation NGO run by Dr Richard Leakey and Paula Kahumbu, says that only 10% of those arrested for poaching and trafficking offences end up facing the consequences.
The country’s Chief Justice agreed to review the filing system for wildlife crime after Wildlife Direct found that in 70% of recent cases, files went missing, were misplaced or just thrown away. Wildlife Direct is also using social media to mobilise ordinary Kenyans into becoming activists and whistle-blowers.
The Golden Question – burn or sell?
Both countries have pledged to get rid of all their ivory stockpiles, a controversial measure intended to diminish the illicit trade that continues to flourish between Africa and the Far East. Many conservationists, mostly Southern Africans, believe that banning the trade in ivory and rhino horn is self-defeating and that money raised from the sale of such stockpiles could be more usefully redirected into local communities as part of conservation programmes.
However, Kenya’s Richard Leakey is unrepentant and, having persuaded President Uhuru Kenyatta to torch 15 tons of ivory last year; he has recently announced that the country will destroy the remaining stockpile of some 110 tons.
We Are Africa Conference
Confirming wildlife preservation’s significance for the travel industry, We Are Africa is holding a two-day Conservation Lab conference in Cape Town which according to CEO Serge Dive, will attract some of the continent’s biggest conservation figures, industry leaders and business executives. (A recent UNWTO survey confirmed that wildlife tourism made up 80% of “the total annual trip sales” from major international markets.)
In the words of Wilderness Safaris’ founder Colin Bell, “We have no choice but to get together and stop the poaching now.”
Thank you, Graham Boynton, for this captivating and insightful piece.