MUSINGS ON AFRICA   Leave a comment

My thoughts on Wednesday were on Africa.

I began the day with an email reporting that some friends who have lost two rhinos to poachers.  The bodies of the animals were discovered with their horns hacked off. In addition to this wanton waste of life, my friends will have to shell out about $80,000 to replace them on their reserve.

My friends are devastated by the loss but will work hard to reestablish the herd animals back to the balance with the land.

The second item that caught my interest was a seminar I attended at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Outdoor Writers Association in Johnson City, TN.

Ashley Lutto is an undergraduate student in Zoology at ColoradoStateUniversity who is pursuing a career in large carnivore conservation ecology.  She has been involved in projects to study wolves in Colorado and spent last summer in Zimbabwe studying wild dogs and leopards.

Lutto’s particular interest is in conserving any species by working with local people who interact with the animals on a daily basis.

Because leopards are such elusive and solitary animals, tracking them is difficult.  She and her advisors used trail cameras to view the nocturnal activities of the animals on Save Valley Conservancy.  They tried a variety of conservation techniques and she presented the pros and cons of each.

Ashley is positive about the future of wildlife in Africa if locals can benefit from its preservation.  When an animal reserve is established, usually the locals living on the land have to move to the outside of the reserve.  The result is too often that they see the reserve as a source of protein and money from poaching.

If they can find another way to receive income, the locals are likely to leave the wildlife alone.  Often they find jobs as guides, trackers, etc on the reserve.  But, those jobs are limited.

It appears to me that the indigenous people of Africa are struggling.  Some live in poverty and turn to crime.  Others move to big cities and do what they can with their limited education.  Some become domestics.  Others go on public assistance if it is available.

Perhaps the future of many Africans lies with the preservation of wildlife.  The consumptive (hunting) and non-consumptive (tourism) uses may be the future of the sub-Sahara countries.  My friends who lost the rhinos do employ a significant portion of the local population and still they were the victims of criminals in search of a quick buck.

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