Africa’s final battle to save its wildlife and its national parks.
The forces working against Africa’s ability to manage its own wildlife affairs – and to succeed in achieving its wildlife management objectives – are huge and astoundingly diverse. Often the issues that cause me the greatest concern are considered, by others, to be irrelevant. But remember: the foot-bone is attached to the leg bone… is attached to the hip-bone… et cetera. It is surprising how seemingly unrelated issues are very importantly connected to wildlife management.
Collectively, ALL these inimical forces represent a formidable challenge and if we are to save Africa’s wildlife for posterity it is vital that society starts to recognise the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and how they fit into the complex whole. Mankind CAN save Africa’s wildlife but it is not going to be easy. Already the scales are weighed heavily against us.
Over the next several articles, therefore, I am going to ramble around, and over, a whole range of the more important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that make up the bigger conservation picture; and, in the process, I hope to provide important pointers for mankind the world-over to consider.
There has been a lot of activity on the internet recently, pushing for what I have been stressing all along – the imperative to integrate of ‘the needs of Africa’s people’ with ‘the needs of Africa’s wildlife’. Not all of this debate, unfortunately, is practical but it does manifest, at last, a swing away from total preservation thinking. THAT is a good thing! But it may be too little too late!
American Dr. Andre Degeorges, particularly – who obtained his doctorate at the Tshwane University of Technology (Pretoria, South Africa) after a lifetime of work in rural Africa (now back living in America) – has been particularly vociferous. Besides being a hunter, Andre is an expert advocate of the need for the sustainable utilisation of Africa’s living resources specifically to provide survival benefits for Africa’s rural people. Like me, he is emphatic that this is the ONLY way to save Africa’s wildlife for posterity. He has a truly massive email address list and he sends out good quality pro-sustainable-use-of-wildlife material nearly every day. On the subject of wildlife management in Africa he recently wrote:
“I sent my innocent brother, Bubba, into Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) that
Ron (Thomson) had managed in his younger days. The first thing my brother
said to me when next we met was that he would never return to that park…
because all the trees had been destroyed (by too many elephants) – which Ron,
himself, has written about. Also a few elephants can wipe out a small farmer’s
maize crop in one night. So, yes, elephants have to be ‘managed’, much to the
chagrin of the urban yuppies in America and Europe – many of them with fancy
degrees coming over to Africa and telling Africa how to manage their natural
resources. Ron has also written extensively about how to integrate rural Africans
into the management of parks and protected areas.
“Sadly, I don’t see too many (people) listening – going for the donor money
instead of doing what is right. This will result in short term gains for a few and
long term losses for many including a major loss of biodiversity. I’ll say it again:
We have to look beyond conservation towards large-scale economic development
that helps raise the masses out of poverty – or poaching will continue, habitat will
be lost and Europe will continue to experience mass (human) migrations off the
African continent! Without economic development even conservation will fail in
Africa. The issue is human, not wildlife. It is called “poverty and despair.”
Economic development, however, cannot happen in Africa without industrialisation; and industrialisation cannot happen without affordable electricity. Industrial development will help to save Africa’s wildlife by reason of it giving the majority of our burgeoning human population responsible employment and an acceptable means of earning a living – other than by way of crime (and poaching). Industrialisation will also drag the dark continent out of its current destructive wallow and, hopefully, into a modern and constructive new era.
This is an example of holistic management. Everything is connected, one way or another. Every facet of the whole impinges on every other part, one way or the other. The continent is poised, in fact, on a knife edge. Either we industrialise, provide Africa’s growing masses with employment, and eliminate the predominance of poverty, or Africa will fall into a state of horrific anarchy – which is rapidly approaching.
Where can Africa get affordable electricity? It can get it by increasing its hydro-electric capacity; from building more nuclear power stations; from erecting wind-turbines; from the use of solar power; and from traditional coal-burning power stations. The easiest, the best, and the most practical solution, in many places, is coal-burning power stations. But all sorts of international protocols have been introduced in recent years to reduce man’s carbon footprint – so as to combat the so-called man-induced global warming phenomenon. So there is a big NO-NO standing in the way of Africa building coal-burning power stations. And that fact will contribute greatly to the extinction of our wildlife!
YET, the so-called man-made global warming phenomenon is, more and more, being discredited by honest scientists. They claim the original scare – which was created, propagated and expanded out of all proportion by the world’s fanatical environmental activists – has now taken on the guise of economic and political activism. The (false) alarm was certainly not generated by the world’s leading climatologists – who continue to repudiate the myth – and, today, it has nothing at all to do with scientific truth.
Some say – more cynically – that blaming global warming on man’s constantly expanding industrial activities, has been manipulated by demonic strategists in the First World to keep the undeveloped world undeveloped – whereupon, forever after, the First World can continue to easily exploit the undeveloped world’s raw natural resources. I won’t go so far as to say that I agree with this conclusion, but it is a possibility. Whether or not there is really any truth in it, however, is immaterial. What is important is that more and more thinking people in Africa are beginning to believe it; and to talk about it.
So, to the Western World, I say: “Beware this wolf”!
Nevertheless, as the months fly by, ever more evidence is uncovered to debunk the man-induced global warming theory. The most recent embarrassment is that, contrary to the predictions of the scientific computer models created by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there has been no change in the earth’s temperature over the last 17 years – despite the fact that industrialisation has continued to expand!
The IPCC comprises some 2500 scientists who are all heavily paid “to prove the theory of man-induced climate change”. So they are their paymasters’ puppets.
Furthermore, the recent shrinkage of the Arctic ice-cap has started to reverse – again contrary to the predictions of the IPCC’s fancy computer models. It is particularly daunting for them because the shrinkage of the Arctic ice-cap has, for years, been promoted by these self-styled scientists as the most significant proof of man-induced global warming.
This poses the question: When is a scientist not a scientist? Answer:
When he allows his scientific conclusions to be drawn by money!
But there is more. America’s National Snow and Ice Data Centre, funded by NASA, has revealed that the southern Antarctic ice-cap – let alone not continuing to decrease – has increased in size significantly. During the winter of 2014, the Antarctic ice cap covered 16 million sq. kms – which is 2.1 million sq. kms more than is usual for this time of the year. An extra area of sea surface, equivalent in size to Greenland, therefore, is now covered in Antarctic ice; and there is now one million square kilometres more sea ice in Antarctica than there was 35 years ago.
The Antarctic ice-surge is so big that, overall, despite the shrinkage of the Arctic ice-cap in recent years (now reversed), the frozen area around both poles is currently one million square kilometres greater than the long-term average. This is all totally contrary to the IPCC’s computer predictions and they cannot offer any kind of convincing explanation. For many years the computer simulations have all predicted that, at both poles, the ice should – by 2014 – be disappearing.
Another revelation further tarnishes the credibility of the IPCC. Many temperature stations have closed down since the global warming scare began, but rather than stop recording data from them, the authorities have taken the remarkable step of estimating temperatures based upon the records of surrounding stations. Furthermore, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stands accused of actually adjusting historical records which means they are now false. And why? Andrew Mountford (Mail online) says that: “….many have noted that the effect (or purpose) of these changes is to produce (the illusion of) a warmer present and a colder past.”
The purpose of this manipulation, therefore, was to further hoodwink the public!
All in all, therefore, many more people are beginning to understand that the so-called science which supports man-induced global warming is corrupt; and that changes in Antarctic and in Arctic temperatures are nothing more than natural variables that have occurred from time immemorial. There are also more and more people who now believe the views of those stalwart climate scientists – true to their faith – who have, all along, been telling the world that changes in the earth’s temperature regimes are natural cyclic phenomena caused solely by increases and/or decreases in solar activity on the sun’s surface. They say that our climate is regulated by the sun, not by man-induced carbon releases from our industries!
The IPCC scientists talk about their “consensus opinion”. Michael Crichton, however, wrote: “Consensus amongst scientists – with regards to scientific opinion about anything – is false. Historically the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is settled.”
Albert Einstein described the key to science very well when he said: “The case is never closed. Many experiments may prove me right…. but it takes only one to prove me wrong.”
There are a great many more than just ONE experiment (or science-based observation) to debunk the man-induced global warming theory. And there are a great many more honest and expert climatologists – than those limited numbers who are PAID to find evidence in support of the man-induced global warming theory; and the detractors are all adamant that climate change is NOT caused by man’s industries.
Isn’t it time, therefore, that the United Nations, and responsible people in world society, put this demon to bed? Or would it be too embarrassing for world leaders to admit that they have been wrong? Are they perpetuating the myth simply to save face?
Getting the world to abandon the false idea that global warming is caused by man is very important to Africa. It is important because, in the face of sub-Saharan Africa’s hugely expanding human population, unless we can absorb into new industries, the bulk of the ever increasing numbers of people on this continent, their exploding numbers will decimate our wildlife long before the end of this century. And, without honest employment, these new masses of people have the potential to create total anarchy.
The human population explosion in Africa, therefore, represents the biggest danger to Africa’s wildlife in the 21st Century!
There were 95.9 million people living in Africa south of the
Sahara Desert in1900. There were 622 million in the year 2000;
and the projected population numbers for the year 2100 is 4 billion.
So, in my humble opinion, Africa needs to use every honest argument at its disposal to debunk, as quickly as possible, the First World’s insistence that man is responsible for global warming. And, Africa needs to start building more and more power stations – of all shapes and sizes – to energise an African industrial revolution.
This does not obviate the desirability of integrating the ‘needs’ of our national parks with the ‘needs’ of our national parks’ immediate human neighbours – which is a separate issue entirely. Nevertheless, industrialisation will defuse (and diminish) the HUGE conflict situation that has already started between man and our wildlife.
I don’t disregard the plight of Africa’s rural people as a whole within this complex conundrum, but I don’t have a magic wand. I have no panacea that will solve ALL of Africa’s woes. What I can say, however, is that the overall living standards of Africa’s people is inextricably linked to the degrees of pressure that they exert on our wildlife; and that relieving poverty and unemployment in Africa’s rural communities will help save Africa’s wildlife. Why? Because POVERTY and UNEMPLOYMENT – everywhere – is the primary ‘cause’ of commercial poaching! So if an industrial revolution in Africa will relieve poverty and unemployment anywhere it will benefit wildlife somewhere.
Relieving poverty and unemployment, particularly within the rural communities that surround our national parks, however, is the most important of all desiderata. It is from these communities that the poachers – the men who pull the triggers – come; and/or who guide poachers who come from further away. Either way, the local people are involved; and/or they know and condone what is going on. It is essential, therefore, that we develop within the psyche’s of these neighbour communities an emotional ownership over the national park alongside which they live; AND an emotional ownership over the wild animals that live within that national park. This will only happen, however, if these people gain significant benefits from the wildlife; survival benefits; benefits that will substantially relieve (or eliminate) their poverty status – and/or which will provide them with employment.
Without the need to hold out Africa’s proverbial begging bowl, this can be made to happen by judiciously and sustainably utilising the wild animals that live within the continent’s national parks. This would require the operation of controlled hunting within the protected areas; and the harvesting (principally for their meat) of the park’s most prolific wild animals (like impala). All such activities, however, must be properly controlled and administered by the national park authorities. I see, therefore, the national park’s wildlife as providing the financial capital to relieve poverty in the park’s immediate neighbour communities; and to create related job opportunities.
There are complicated procedures to bring this into effect – which we need not discuss here at this time. All that I need for you to understand, at this juncture, is that this is what I mean when I talk about ‘integrating the “needs” of the people with the “needs” of the wildlife’.
The needs of the people are to relieve their poverty and unemployment circumstances! The needs of the wildlife are, principally, to STOP poaching – forever. And when a park’s neighbour communities are not poverty stricken, and when they are usefully employed – as a consequence of dispensations from the national park itself – they will become the national park’s greatest custodians!
When the people start to benefit from the park’s wildlife, they will generate the desired emotional ownership over their wildlife; just as they have an emotional ownership over their cattle, sheep and goats. And just as it is not in the people’s best interests to harm their own cattle sheep and goats, it will also not be in their best interests for them to harm their own wild animals. Parsimony cannot be a factor in such a dispensation. The more money (and other benefits) that the people can derive from the sustainable harvesting of their wild animals, the more valuable will the wild animals become to them.
Once such a programme is flowing there will be no need, anymore, for Africa to hold out the proverbial international begging bowl to save its wildlife. The wildlife itself will provide its own salvation.
This, in my humble opinion, is the only way that we can save Africa’s wildlife for posterity. The judicious and sustainable harvesting of the wildlife that lives inside our national parks – and maintaining the park’s biological diversity in the process – is, I believe, infinitely preferable than simply trying to preserve our wildlife – which can be likened to keeping safe pickled onions in a bottle. And already – as a consequence of the high levels of commercial poaching at this time – we know that the total preservation approach does not work. These are the realities of Africa in the 21st Century.
The First World has not yet come to grips with this kind of thinking. Most people in The West who think about Africa and its wildlife, seem to believe that as long as you wield a big enough stick you can control poaching in Africa. That is not true. When people have nothing – when they live their lives in abject poverty; when their children are dying of starvation or of kwashiokor (a common protein-deficiency disease in Africa); and when they cannot earn a single legal dollar to uplift the living standards of their families, they will do anything to improve their living conditions; or simply to survive. And for every poacher who is captured or killed, the crime syndicate or the corrupt civil servant who once employed the man ‘who is now no more’, will have no problem finding some other desperate soul to replace him.
In a nutshell: If you don’t overcome poverty in rural Africa you won’t ever overcome poaching.
The proposals so far offered in this first article, represents a strange way of thinking for many westerners who, over the last 50 years, have slowly imposed upon Africa a set of rules that will make even the testing of this hypothesis impossible. Africa and Africans are now inextricably bound into First World imposed rules and regulations – that satisfy ONLY the Western First World psyche. These are philosophies that may work in the First World, but which can never be made to work in Africa. And because they have been rejected by Africa’s people, the poaching of Africa’s most valuable commodity – its wildlife – is now a pandemic that has spread right across the continent.
Africa is currently fighting a war; a war to save its wildlife. And our biggest enemies are those who tell us they are our allies: Western First World countries – especially the USA; International wildlife organisations like the IUCN, WWF and (especially) CITES; national wildlife organisations – like (especially) the US Fish and Wildlife Service; and the so-called ‘International Conservation Community’.
This conservation community is a large and collective bunch of rogues comprised of the world’s leading animal rights groups whose raison d’etre is to ABOLISH all animal use programmes (including man’s management of wild animals). Why? Because that is the way they earn their fat cat salaries from ignorant and gullible (even if they are well-meaning) First World publics. When the only hope of saving Africa’s wildlife is to use it sustainably for the benefit of Africa’s people, therefore, the financial power and the fanaticism of the self-styled conservation community, represents the next most important death knell for Africa’s wildlife.
The first salvoes have been fired in Africa’s Wildlife Armageddon. This is a war that no true nature-lover wants to lose. So I intend to arm everyone who would like to know the facts, with knowledge about the nature of the armies ranged against us, and the adverse effects they are having on our wildlife management activities. Much of this information will be totally contrary to the animal rights propaganda that is being handed out to the masses by the sensation-seeking media – which, of course, is the reason why I am writing these articles!
So, gird your loins!
Author: Ron Thomson
First Publised in AFRICAN OUTFITTER magazine Nov 2014