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I decided to deal with the various conservation lessons that I learnt at Majete in a separate discussion rather than in my previous trip report. I then used some of them in answer to questions raised in other discussions, notably one on Gucci Grace. At @Game Warden's instigation, I'll carry on here. However, I've decided to add "finance" to the tags. In my judgement, it is not possible to consider conservation without discussing how it is going to be paid for. At the end of the Gucci Grace dialogue, @For Wildlife seemed to suggest that managing land for profit somehow invalidated any contribution that it could make to conservation even when the land in question was being run as a wildlife ranch. In the case of very small and intensively-run ranches, his point is plausible. For ranches in excess of 40 sq km, I consider him generally to be wrong. It may be correct that fenced ranches of less than, say, 100 sq km are not ideal for predators and even that it may sometimes be prudent to kill predators getting on to them, this doesn't mean that they are making no contribution to conservation - of habitat and of herbivores. Man is merely replacing lions as the apex predator and is doing so in a sustainable manner. Zonal conservation is a perfectly valid and, often, useful concept and implies that one doesn't need to conserve everything in a single area. Most wildlife ranches in South Africa have been created from extensive cattle ranches on non-formally protected areas. Surely, this extra space for wildlife should be lauded rather than dismissed? Wildlife numbers have increased by 70% in three decades in South Africa and have reduced by the same amount in Kenya. @For Wildlife seemed to be appalled that I ascribed a value to the the herbivores that would be killed at Majete should target predator numbers be reached. I chose to apply monetary value in order to allow me to contrast this with tourist income received by the Reserve. (This will continue to grow, but, in my opinion, ecotourism alone will never cover all the costs). If he would prefer, I can put in an approximate tonnage of animals killed/annum by 30 lions, 40 hyaenas and 50 leopards. The figure is 320 tonnes (about 1775 grazing/browsing units). I do accept, however, that there would be costs associated with acquiring the meat in the form of harvesting, skinning ,butchering and distribution. (For interest, I didn't give any value to hides and costed the meat at $2/kg). As a matter of fact, any game rancher relying purely on meat sales is unlikely to cover his costs. He will almost certainly need additional income from hunting or ecotourism to do so. Many, of course, own game ranches for philanthropic reasons and expect to make affordable losses. It is the intention of African Parks eventually to make profits or break even on all the protected areas they run. Simultaneously, they recognise it as their duty to enhance the living conditions of local communities. Furthermore, AP has ambitions to increase the area of land under management. This will require ever greater donor contributions ($33 million in 2016) unless net running costs can be markedly reduced. Presently costs exceed income by more than 90%. AP has been able to make management agreements in many sub-Saharan states because their governments are only too conscious of losing money in trying to protect protected areas. AP absolves the governments from this unsustainable funding and puts in place a management structure that will generally supply adequate resources for good protection. There are currently about 2.7 million sq km of sub-Saharan Africa with protected status. Presently, AP is managing only just over 2% (at an approximate cost of $500/sq km). The vast majority of protected areas are substantially underfunded. Partial funding provides very little protection and may even exacerbate problems with poaching by creating alienation of local communities and employees. Currently, there seems to much enthusiasm among conservationists for the creation of trans-frontier parks. This is a fine principle in theory, but it is seeking more wildlife territory when even existing territory can't be managed properly with the resources available. I am concerned that many here may equate profit with greed and, as such, a vice. I regard it as a measure of efficiency. AP, a not for profit organisation, aims eventually to make Majete into a self-financing Reserve. This will free funds for investment into the management of other protected areas throughout Africa. In my opinion, most conservation bodies and wildlife donor organisations fail to achieve their objectives because they seem to bury the need for efficiency under a cloak of idealism. I haven't really got to the subjects which I feel most comfortable to discuss, but I'll stop here to allow others to comment on financial matters.
I didn't see this posted elsewhere: http://www.eturbonews.com/64016/massive-forest-fire-engulfs-mt-meru-arusha The story says it all, essentially it's alleged that some farmers set fire to the forest on the slopes of Mt. Meru after a dispute with the Forestry Department. Not only is it affecting the wildlife, but according to posts I've seen on Facebook there are issues with the drinking water in the area (not sure how reliable those reports are though). While it's certainly not one of the iconic parks, we really enjoyed our short visit to ANP, and it's disappointing to see it become a pawn in the dispute.
The Times of India have reported FDCM starts measures to check forest fires in Tadoba TNN | Jan 19, 2013, 01.47AM IST ": Fire fighting unit of FDCM has initiated early measures to check the forest fire in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in coming summer. They have completed the fireline cutting work in the tiger reserve and would burn the chopped foliage on the fireline between February 1 and 15. Last year TATR had lost over 4,000 hectares of forest in wild fires in summer months. Cautious authorities of FDCM west Chanda division, that shoulders the responsibility of control of fire in TATR, are in no mood to leave any stone unturned this year." When we went to Kanha in feb there was burning like this going on by the roads and we believed it had a detrimental effect on the quality of our sightings. Obviously this work needs to be done and it's good to know when the work is planned to take place. With our new dates hopefully seeing us visit Tadoba in mid march I am hopeful that this work will have been completed by then. Might even be beneficial to us if it reduces the amount of cover! Here's hoping! Still waiting for the other client to confirm that the new dates are a go... So still not 100% sure the trip is happening yet..
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