Tag Archives: national parks

At Least Preserve Something

Pendjari National Park

Benin is hiring scores of extra park rangers and bringing in conservation scientists to rehabilitate part of West Africa’s largest wildlife reserve, which contains big cats and thousands of elephants that have largely died out elsewhere in the region. The W-Arli-Pendjari (WAP) complex is the region’s biggest remaining expanse of savannah, covering more than 30,000 sq km of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The tiny nation has partnered with NGO African Parks for the 10-year project centred on the 4,800 sq km Pendjari National Park, part of WAP and seen as the most viable tourist hub for the area, officials involved told Reuters.

“Pendjari is an opportunity for Benin and the region,” Jose Pliya, director of Benin’s national tourism agency, told Reuters. “This partnership will help us make it a sustainable tourism destination and a lever for development and employment for Beninoise.”

Boosting ecotourism faces challenges, not least because jihadists are thought to have infiltrated parts of the wider reserve. France, former colonial master of the three nations straddling the park advised it citizens against all travel to the Burkina Faso side of the expanse.

To better police the park, the project will recruit 10 officers or specialists, train 90 guards, set up a satellite communications network and put a 190 km fence around it, a joint statement from African Parks and Benin said.

Excerpts from Moves to save part of west Africa’s last big wildlife refuge, Reuters, June 2, 2017

Eviction of Indigenous Peoples from National Parks

On the second anniversary of a landmark ruling by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), Minority Rights Group International (MRG) condemns the Kenyan government’s lack of commitment to ensuring justice for the Endorois people and urges the authorities to immediately restore ownership to the community of their ancestral lands around the Lake Bogoria National Reserve.

Although the Commission recognised, for the first time in the continent, indigenous peoples’ rights over traditionally occupied land and their right to be involved in, and benefit from, any development affecting their land, the Endorois still have no land title, have received no compensation for the loss they suffered during almost 40 years, nor a significant share in tourism revenue from their land.  Kenya adopted a new Constitution in August 2010, which, together with a new National Land Policy, supported the Commission’s decision in recognising indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands.

‘Two years on from the African Commission’s ruling the Endorois are still waiting for justice to be brought home. The government’s lack of engagement with the community is of extreme concern and, inevitably, it raises questions about their commitment to the high ideals to be found in Kenya’s new Constitution,’ says Carla Clarke, MRG’s Head of Law….  ‘In view of Kenya’s new Constitution, which provides for the establishment of a National Land Commission to review past abuses and recommend appropriate redress, it is particularly important that the government implements the Commission’s decision without further delay,’ added Carla Clarke.

Endorois land was originally appropriated by the Kenyan government in the 1970s to create the Lake Bogoria National Reserve. On 2 February 2010, the African Union adopted a decision of the ACHPR which declared firstly that the expulsion of Endorois from their lands was illegal, and secondly that the Kenyan government had violated certain fundamental rights of the community protected under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international instruments.

The Endorois are a semi-nomadic indigenous community of approximately 60,000 people, who for centuries have earned their livelihoods from herding cattle and goats in the Lake Bogoria area of Kenya’s Rift Valley.  When tourists flock to Lake Bogoria, famous for its flamingos and geysers, they have little idea of the high cost the Endorois paid for their eviction. The vast majority of the community still live in severe poverty, have little or no electricity, walk miles to collect water in an area stricken by drought, and are often dependent on relief food.

Since the creation of the wildlife reserve, the Endorois have been unable to gather the plants they once relied on for medicinal purposes, conduct religious ceremonies at their sacred sites or visit the graves of their ancestors.

 

Two years on from African Commission’s ruling, Kenya continues to drag its feet in recognising indigenous peoples’ ownership of wildlife park, MRG urges government to act, Reuters, Feb. 3, 2012

What is the best way to protect endangered species, hijacking CITES?

Reports that Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is sitting on 44 tonnes of ivory worth US$10 million, which it cannot sell are disturbing.  Once again we have a situation where an international body, in this case the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), is working against the interests of Zimbabwe.  We have a situation where Zimbabwe is being stopped from trading in its wildlife products to raise money to sustainably manage the wildlife for posterity.  For years now Zimbabwe has been lobbying, campaigning and begging that its fellow members in Cites support its bid to trade in ivory in a controlled and accountable manner.  Zimbabwe’s wildlife management programme is excellent despite operating with limited resources. We have kept our wildlife populations high, including the endangered species like the rhino.  The war against poachers has been sustained for the past three decades of our independence.

But our elephant population is clearly too high and is a danger to the environment. It is estimated that the population is over 100 000 against a holding capacity that is half of that.  The only way to protect the environment and future elephant populations, as well as other wildlife, is to periodically cull the elephants and keep the population at manageable levels.

Yet we have countries that do not have elephant populations of their own seeking to stop Zimbabwe from economically benefiting from its wildlife.  The US$10 million that could be realised from selling the ivory stockpiled by the Parks authorities could go a long way in ensuring that the infrastructure and equipment in our national parks is maintained at levels that produce efficiency in wildlife management and conservation programmes. Apart from Kenya, which has genuine concerns about allowing trade in ivory given that it also has high elephant populations which could be poached, the other countries don’t stand to realise much economic value from their low elephant populations.  But again Kenya gets a lot of donor funding to keep its wildlife programmes running. It is being rewarded for supporting the Western view of absolute protection instead of sustainable and profitable use.  Zimbabwe is under economic sanctions, which means less money will find its way into wildlife preservation from the national budget.  If the same forces that oppose its desire to trade in ivory are not putting money into wildlifthen they are working towards the collapse of our wildlife programmes.

An example cited by Parks director-general Vitalis Chadenga is that of the Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park, where other countries are getting assistance and Zimbabwe is being left out.  If Zimbabwe was allowed to off-load at least 10 tonnes a year, it would not have the kind of stockpile it now has. But it last had a Cites-approved sale in 2008 when only five tonnes where sold to China and Japan.

The point is that Zimbabwe will not stop culling elephants because this is a necessary process in managing its wildlife environment. So why not allow it to raise money from wildlife products to maintain the same environment.  What is unfortunate is that the 175-member Cites has been hijacked by Western protectionist and animal welfare groups, who could not conserve wildlife in their own countries but now want to superintend over ours.  Zimbabwe has proved through the Campfire programme that if communities are allowed to derive economic benefits from wildlife they will preserve it.

Zimbabwe: Ivory Stockpile – Cites Should Let us Hold Controlled Sales, AllAfrica.com, Oct. 13, 2011

Modern Poaching Crisis

Illegal Ivory Trade

Illicit Markets