“To save wildlife and preserve livelihoods, we must ensure that wild spaces remain a legitimate and competitive land-use option, we must create a new and effective wildlife economy”, Said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director for UNEP during the summit.
Economic Growth and Wildlife Conservation
These two aspects can be examined from two perspectives: the use of Wildlife habitats for developmental activities and the use of wildlife itself as a source of economic growth.
Economic growth is the main cause of wildlife loss in Africa because there is habitat transformation in the course of economic activities; thus an inverse relationship between the two aspects.
The exploitation or use of Wildlife habitats for various economic activities, are forcing wildlife to migrate to areas where they are hunted, poached or end up dying due to the inability to adapt to new changes. Many African communities now compete with the same vulnerable wildlife with whom they once co-lived for their food, safer and more natural habitats because drought, wild fires, diseases and disasters have ravaged their homes.
The UN in the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development believes that sustainable management of natural resources can also bring socioeconomic growth. Thus, if wildlife conservation is bringing reasonable income into African economies, then policies should be reinforced and investments made to preserve the remaining.
Wildlife and their habit or environment in general can contribute to economic growth in many ways.
- Source of Food: Most rural settlers in Africa depend on natural resources such as plants and animals for food. If wildlife is properly conserved and managed by the Stakeholders and Authorities for sustainable exploitation, it will reduce the rate of malnutrition which often causes death and diseases thus leading to a healthy population.
- Increase in Soil Fertility and Eviction of Disasters: While using the habitats of and exploiting wildlife under the control of organizations and governments, many defaults can be avoided such as wildfire, erosion and drought. Also, the recycling of natural wastes will also increase soil fertility.
- Reduction of Climate Change: If the wildlife habitats are conserved, the rate of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere which affects the ozone layer will also reduce. Conserving aquatic habitats and coastland ecosystems like mangroves can avoid storms, floods and water pollution.
- Tourism: If wildlife can be preserved in sanctuaries, parks, zoos and activities of settlers within/around their habitats controlled, it can act as a source of income from tourists.
- Resolution to Conflicts: Scarcity of natural resources has caused conflicts in Africa like the case of Fulani Herdsmen slaughtering Christian farmers in the Middle Belt of Nigeria in 2018 over grazing land. If these resources and wildlife are properly managed and controlled, they will improve African economies and while reducing conflicts and foster solidarity among different African communities of people and thus trade.
- Source of employment: Reinforcing and implementing laws/policies that govern Wildlife conservation will create jobs/employment in diverse fields which will help reduce the rate of poverty and increase economic growth.
Some Statistics on Wildlife loss in Africa for the last 20 years
Statistics presented by UNEP during the summit of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi Kenya from March 11 to 15, 2019 show that, for the last 20 years, species populations have seriously declined; lions from about 45,000 to about 20,000, elephants from about 1.3 million to about 700,000 and giraffes from about 140,000 to about 80,000 just to name a few caused by economic activites.
Wildlife also serves nature in many indirect, insignificant but vital ways; natural terrain architecture, seed dispersal, transformation of food to manure waste, hosts for nitrifying bacteria which help to covert natural nitrogen gas which is dangerous to humans to harmless nitrogen oxides.
H.E Ambassador Josefa Correia Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture hailed the efforts of Africans saying, “Africa has made significant headway in protecting natural spaces and conserving wildlife and ecosystems, it is high time to boost economies through Africa-led public-private partnerships that place communities at the heart of investment, while taking into account the need to continue the conservation pathway.”
Many organizations and institutions have undertaken reformation ventures influence policies and government activities in Africa in this light but have been unsuccessful. Such ventures from NGOs have suggested that:
More realistic developmental and conservation tactics should be mapped out and executed.
Redesign infrastructural plans especially those with negative impacts on the environment.
Governments should create economic and trade development blueprints that can explicitly be incorporated into national plans.
Private sector investors should be monitored and asked to sign agreements to protect Wildlife and the environment.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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