Game Warden

Is Fortress Conservation African Wildlife's last hope?

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With the constant stream of negative news from Africa, ie ever increasing poaching levels, increasing influence of criminal syndicates, human encroachment and increased instances of deliberate poisoning, is Fortress Conservation African Wildlife's last stand? As an example, Kenya's population has increased by +/- 10 million people between 1999-2009, (Source, www.afrik-news.com - here): at this continuing growth rate the pressure on the environment will become intense, and encroachment towards NPs and reserves will constrict, if not block completely traditional migration corridors, if not already having done so. And this human pressure on the wildlife is mirrored in most of the other traditional African Safari destinations. What is the answer?

 

Population Control? Nobody talks about this, or tackles the problem. Indeed, can one lay the finger of blame at the Catholic Church's doorstop for not promoting contraception? No, its more than that. Even if there was a control our numbers are already too great, and we are consuming more than we can produce. Wildlife suffers - look at the illegal bushmeat trade reaching crisis point, and African leaders, such as Mugabe don't help when telling the starving masses to kill the animals for food.

 

What about the sophistication of the criminal poaching syndicates? This year it is estimated in South Africa that more rhinos will be killed than are born, (source - www.news24.com here) so any strides in rhino conservation is being negated, bringing to mind the rhino wars of the 80s and the decimation of the population in Zambia.

 

With land being restored to original owners, this is reducing areas of National Parks, reserves and private farms - and all of this is leading to increasing levels of human vs wildlife conflict.

 

So what is the future?

 

Can an increasing human population co-exist with wildlife in Africa, or will the only sanctuaries be fenced reserves and parks, patrolled by military forces (whether private or national armies) to protect the wildlife? Will wildlife cease to exist outside of the parks and reserves? Will force be needed to remove human populations from wildlife rich areas, as has happened in the past during colonial times upon the declaration of a National Park? Are transfrontier parks really the answer when some countries have a worse reputation for poaching than others?

 

What will be the state of African wildlife in fifty years time? Is all the money which is being donated to the various and numerous NGOs really making a difference, or would it be better spent funding a militarised force to provide 24/7 protection?

 

What are your thoughts?

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With the population growing steadily, perhaps it's time for us to say that we should stop trying to eradicate malaria - one of the few things that helps control the population levels?

Controlling the Tsetse fly has been disastrous for wildlife as it allowed people and cattle to move into areas previously used only by wildlife, and eradicating Malaria could be the final straw.

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Interesting point Predator.

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Posted (edited)

Lots of good points to ponder, GW. And my feelings are until governments stop sweeping the human overpopulation issue under the rug, wildlife and their habitats (and corridors) will continue to suffer. Poverty will continue to escalate at levels beyond comprehension and people will resort to almost anything to get by, including taking part in the illegal wildlife trade, (poaching and the buying and selling of exotics and their body parts).

 

I think if I had the $$, I would try the militarized force. Trying to reason with poachers and the syndicate doesn't seem to be doing much good these days. But how do make sure those you employ are on the up and up? I think with what happened with the rhinos in S.A., you just never know. Those who were supposed to protect the rhinos were the ones behind the poaching. And just this week, wasn't the case thrown out of court?

 

Same with the m. gorillas in '07. The ten who were killed were killed by people on the inside, those who were supposed to protect. How do we stop that from happening? Who is to be trusted?

 

A side topic...and maybe someone can answer this question, as well, because I'm curious. Does anyone know what the rules of engagement are when a member of an anti-poaching team encounters a poacher? Do they try and apprehend the poacher alive with a warning shot fired, or is it shoot to wound or shoot to kill? I think if the "shoot to kill" was enforced, the poachers might think twice before getting involved.

 

I saw a segment on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago with Bill and Melinda Gates and their plans to donate almost all of their wealth (some $60 billion I think it was...correct me if I'm wrong) to humanitarian efforts and finding cures for many diseases and ailments which shorten the life spans of those in third world countries. I commend them for what they are doing to help mankind, but on the other hand I'm worried about what the repercussions will be on wildlife and their habitats.

 

At a grocery store today, when I slid my debit card across the little gizmo (don't know what they're called) a question came up and asked if I wanted to contribute $1 $2, $5, or $10 to the breast cancer foundation. Why can't we create enough awareness to do something like that for wildlife for a week or a month in grocery stores across the country or in several countries around the world? I know I would donate every time I went to the store within a month and probably others would too. It happens in PetSmart stores here in the U.S. for cats and dogs. Is the situation not dire enough yet for wildlife? Or is the world not really aware of how bad it is getting for wildlife? And how would the funds be used anyway?

 

Just what is the solution(s) other than getting the human population under control? I mean, the population of China today is what the world's population was 150 years ago! That kind of puts things into perspective of how crowded this planet is by humans.

 

Don't mean to raise more questions but I think most of us who are concerned have to keep trying to make our voices heard, one way or another. There are plenty of us out there but it seems so fragmented (so many different orgs. for different species). If we can somehow find a way to unite/ join together, I think we will stand a better chance of being recognized.

Edited by divewop

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I have to say I struggle with Predator’s point regarding malaria, having suffered from it myself I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I just wish as much time and effort would be put in to trying to reduce the birth rate in the developing world as is put in to trying to eradicate malaria (or premature death generally).

 

This week representatives of 190 countries will be attending a UN conference on biodiversity in Tokyo to discuss how to prevent species loss, I hope a few people will point out the obvious elephant in the room that is human population growth this has to be the biggest threat to biodiversity in the long run. When David Attenborough who is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust did raise this issue a short while ago the media completely missed his point regarding the threat to wildlife preferring to question whether the world is overpopulated by as usual having a debate about whether the world will be able to feed 9 billion people or whether we will all starve as Thomas Malthus seemed to predict. For some people it seems that as long as we can still feed everyone nothing else matters.

 

Chris Packham has just raised the population issue in the Telegraph Chris Packham says control the population to save wildlife, Divewop you might be interested to read some of the comments. I am afraid a lot of people either aren’t aware of the scale of the problem or don’t think that species loss actually matters. It's good that at least a few people are starting to talk about this issue, I’ve never understood why the major conservation/environmental organisations like WWF for example seem to be completely silent on the subject of population.

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Great article, inyathi! Thanks for sharing. I wish more people in the scientific community would speak up. And more people in the government. But I think governments are worried about telling humans what to do. And who would listen? More people would probably be offended than anything else.

 

I remember (it was probably 15 years ago) when I asked a biologist friend of mine what he thought the biggest issue the world was facing was and he said overpopulation. He said people just don't want to talk about it! Ted Turner has been talking about it for many years, bringing it up to many world leaders during meetings and people think he's radical. I admire him for it. At least he's got the courage (along with a very few others) to bring it up!

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I have to say I struggle with Predator’s point regarding malaria, having suffered from it myself I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I just wish as much time and effort would be put in to trying to reduce the birth rate in the developing world as is put in to trying to eradicate malaria (or premature death generally).

 

I agree - Malaria isnt a pleasant thing to have, but it is a natural disease that has helped control the human populations.

 

Reducing the birth rates is part of the ideal solution, but that will take a long time to achieve (even if the political will is found), but prolonging peoples lives is equally part of the problem. We're using modern medicines and chemicals to keep people alive longer than is natural and also to kill things we dont like (like mosquitos or tsetse flies) so people can move into previously uninhabitable areas.

 

If we get rid of malaria infested areas where people cant live at present because of the mosquito/malaria problem, will suddenly become habitable and people will move in - so there goes the wildlife and its habitat.

 

Frankly, without the numerous civil wars etc plus diseases like malaria and HIV, I think by now the population of Africa would be so large that most of the wildlife we have today would be long gone.

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From my point of view one way to slow down human population growth in Africa is to increase education levels. Education would offer opportunities for a livelihood beyond traditional ways of living. Those traditional ways support population growth esp. if mortality rates are decreasing due to elimination of certain deseases and improvements of medical care (which are good and very important developments).

 

Secondly, to cope with population growth, overall industriell development and wildlife conservation there is an urgent need for more efficient ways of crop and cattle farming. Meaning more output per didicated land mass, to feed the growing population, to sustain farming once more and more rural people will move towards the industriell centers and to be able to keep critical land masses for wildlife.

 

And it is very important, that governments of African countries make decisions if they want to sustain wilderness areas, to define which areas should be protected and to execute protection seriously, with lethal force if needs to be.

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The issue is a systemic one having to do with land tenure. Common property rights i.e. the commons, are being assailed by what David Harvey calls 'accumulation by dispossession' or Hardin called 'the tragedy of the commons'. What we are doing in a part of the Luangwa is to create statutory bodies (Trusts or Societies) in which land is vested by a community - within a chiefdom. The community Trust may then enter into co-management agreements with Government over the renewable resources (fish, wildlife, water, forests...) based on agreed landuse plans. The user rights to the land are then leased out to investors for a set period of time and under a certain set of conditions. The Trust Fund then receives income, disbursed only on the total agreement of the community, the chief receives added income, and Government receives its share of any offtakes, licenses and so on. This process reinstates traditional rights to resources, the very basis of their culture and religion. This model I have named Landsafe. Without the commons being ring-fenced there is no protection from the land-grabbers and a Government searching for increased rentals. Wildlife has to be 'owned' for it to survive.

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The issue is a systemic one having to do with land tenure. Common property rights i.e. the commons, are being assailed by what David Harvey calls 'accumulation by dispossession' or Hardin called 'the tragedy of the commons'.

 

That may be a small part of the issue, but poaching would continue even if this issue didnt exist - the root cause of poaching is surely poverty. While people are poor then they will do subsistence poaching, and are easily tempted into commercial poaching by large sums of money (large to them, but small in comparison with the black market value of ivory or rhino horn).

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Predator, I think that subsistence poaching would probably be easily dealt with compared to what is going on now. If poverty was reduced and subsistence poaching not so much an issue, we would surely be naive to think that the large, well funded and well armed gangs would not continue their decimation of rhinos.

 

Perhaps the bushmeat trade would be reduced? One would hope. But the killing of rhinos and elephants surely is more about Western/Eastern greed and desire rather than about African poverty. Don't get me wrong, eleviating poverty, increasing education, getting locals involved and benefiting from wildlife are all critical to the long term conservation movement.

 

What is needed is a many pronged, intensive approach to do the following:

1 reduce poverty

2 increase education

3 give local people some intrinsic and real benefit from preserving wildlife and the environment

4 increase penalties for breaking the law

5 increase the trained personnel who are supported adequately to protect conservation areas

6 increase work with overseas countries to educate their populations on the problems with the trade in horn and ivory

7 increase international penalties

8 good old fashioned detective work to follow the train of command to cut off the heads of a few of these poaching rings

9 get serious about corruption and follow through penalties imposed by the courts

10 land ownership and reduced death rates from increased health care will reduce population growth. It has been seen to work in some South American populations. If you don't need 12 children to leave 4 or 5 to look after you in your old age you are more likely to practise some sort of family birth control. Not many women want to be pregnant every year … you blokes may not realise that!! B)

+++++

In no particular order.

Focussing on only one thing is just not treating the complexity of this problem.

 

I think the Luangwa trust (alluded to by Ian Manning) is a really great working programme. More of these initiatives need to be made.

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Twaffle - A good list of priorities, and one more item should be added I think?

 

Reduce corruption within the governments. In my opinion, one of the reasons why governments do not have the finances for education and better health care (including the availability of free birth control) is because that finance gets siphoned off by Presidents on down. Very many African countries actually have the many mineral resources, for example, that could and should be put back into the government coffers rather than overseas private bank accounts. We all seem to turn a blind eye to the level of corruption that exists in African countries, but I can promise you that the average Minister does not live off the salary paid to him or her. If those finances could be restored to public circulation, I believe we would see a great improvement in the level of services governments could provide and therefore a considerable improvement in the lives of people?

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LionAid, good point, not sure how I could miss such an obvious one. I don't think any multi national company is prepared to face up to their culpability in any of the issues you raised, not without their hand being forced in the first instance.

 

Corruption is one thing which is just not being faced up to yet.

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gallery_4095_411_21454.jpg

 

Sign photographed by Dik dik, at Matopos outside Bulawayo: do you think such signs are deterrent enough? At what stage will conservation have to become "Fortress Conservation" with every reserve and park fenced. All migratory corridors cut off. Armed forces working on a shoot to kill mandate? And from where will financing for this come from?

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Matt,if it comes to that we may as well pack up and give up. Wildlife diversity can't survive long term in that sort of intensely managed environment. Can you imagine? We would kill all the jackals, truck in prey for predators, cull elephants, forget about the blind moles. End of the world for the wildlife.

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Great comments. Timely "end of the world" comment, Twaffle.

 

I've been thinking about this question of wildlife's last hope, especially after my India visit.

 

I remember signs like the one pictured and being told about the strict rules way back in 1998 in Matopos. I asked if we were safe doing rhino tracking on foot or if we might be mistaken for poachers. I was told that I looked so much like a tourist who was incapable of poaching (as did the other 2 people in our party) that we were surely safe.

 

Fortresses may be the last hope for humans to see and maintain diverse species. Hopefully not in my lifetime, but eventually.

 

I agree that overpopulation of humans is ultimately the problem. I fear as with other species that experience spikes that a correction will occur, and it will not be kind. At that point the fortress concept for wildlife will not be needed.

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gallery_4095_320_191309.jpg

Before anyone gets confused - Matopos is actually rather large, and have their Rhino reserve fenced separately, and that was where the sign was along with this one. But it seems pretty much on the topic of fortress conservation. There was a visible amount of armed game guards in that area.

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Eh, when will conservation become fortress conservation with armed guards? Think we've been there for some time folks. If you can compare the work of people like John Terborgh with Eric Sanderson and Kent Redford you can get some very interesting views on this subject. Also see some difficult questions posed for environmentalists by Rosaleen Duffy.

 

Also an interesting time to consider the role Rinderpest played in the shaping of East Africa's reserves.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13473227

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I am posting this here but it could easily slot into several of the topics being discussed. Interesting article examining the current state of Africa's Conservation Areas in terms of ungulate migration and the consequence of the disruption of this activity. Serious implications for the sustainability of wildlife.

 

The paper is "Functional conservation areas and the future of Africa’s wildlife" by Richard W. S. Fynn, Mpaphi C. Bonyongo published in June's edition of the African Journal of Ecology.

 

http://ubrisa.ub.bw/bitstream/handle/10311....pdf?sequence=1

 

Abstract:

 

Ungulate populations in African conservation areas (CAs) are in widespread decline, which can largely be attributed to a lack of functionality of the area encompassed by the CAs themselves. We present evidence from a wide range of African CAs showing that they do not encompass both the functional wet- and dry-season resources that ungulates traditionally migrated between. Before human populations and economic development had grown to levels where they interfered with migrations outside the CAs, ungulates were able to make use of their traditional seasonal resources but this is becoming increasingly difficult and we are now seeing the effects of this restriction of movement on ungulate population numbers. New innovative strategies are required for the conservation of African wildlife. An urgent Africa-wide survey is needed to establish past and present functional resources in and around CAs and to prioritize conservation regions that are most functional. In addition, innovative attempts need to be made to reconsolidate functional seasonal resources within revised expanded protected areas.

 

Key Conclusions:

 

The examples of KNP, CKGR, ENP, NNP, MMGR and TNP discussed in this paper exposes severe flaws in African conservation strategy inherited from the colonial era; merely proclaiming large areas of land as CAs without thought given to critical seasonal habitats and corridors may do little to conserve the ungulate ecology and ecosystem structure and functioning of that region. It is now unequivocally clear that most formal CA’s in Africa are completely inadequate for conserving large productive ungulate populations and that the future of wildlife in Africa is critically dependent on landuse policies outside the CA’s (see also Nelson, 2008). Thus, current conservation strategies for Africa need to be revised. Wildlife conservation strategies must now adopt a socio-economic-ecological framework (Nelson, 2008; Reid et al., 2009). Failure to adequately address socio-economic issues will ultimately lead to habitat fragmentation and ecological collapse in the region

 

Three practical, socially and politically acceptable ways of reconnecting key habitats of ungulates in Africa could be explored by conservationists: (i) Identify nonpriority CAs, where there is no possibility of restoring functionality, which could be deproclaimed and exchanged for land in crucial linkage/corridor areas in more functional CAs; (ii) Local communities living in corridor areas could be encouraged to convert their region to community-based natural resource management areas (CBNRM) where they derive income from tourism and hunting (see Nelson, 2008). This has been successfully achieved in areas linking CAs in northern Botswana (Mbaiwa, 2004, 2005) and is critical for the future of African wildlife conservation (Nelson, 2008); (iii) Sedentary cattle ranching in migratory corridors or seasonal resources must be avoided because sedentary (but not mobile) pastoralism has a destructive impact on ungulate populations (e.g. Wallgren et al., 2009; Western, Groom & Worden, 2009). Grouping all the cattle in a region into fewer larger herds that track spatial and temporal variability of resources (transhumance) has been demonstrated to be beneficial to livestock production and rangeland condition (Breman & De Wit, 1983; Fryxell & Sinclair, 1988a; McAllister et al., 2006) as well as to wildlife populations (Wallgren et al., 2009; Western, Groom & Worden, 2009).

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There are many solutions to this problems. 99% of which are borderline of not completely inhuman. Stop controlling malaria to prevent population. Was that suggested by someone who lives in a malarial area or who cant afford a mosquito net. What about refusing medical treatemnt for terminal or genetic problems? Or self inflicted health issues like smokers or drinkers? How about we stop health care a the age of 50? I am an animal lover, a conservaitonist and care passionately for wildlife but I am also human and care about my fellow man. The only way I can see the growth in human pressure being alleviatted is by mving away from what we in the UK call "little Britain". Our actions as a society affect others globally. We are no longer many isolated peoples. We are one society. There are many cultures in our society but we are one. I am a Scot who has lived and worked in Malawi, Seychelles, Tanzania, Swaziland, england, Wales, Greece but my actions have affected/contributed to people globally. I have bought priducts from Asia, flown on flights pumping CO2 out globally. If we lived outlife without borders then we could do much more. A global cooperative economy. Even the EU cant function because everyone cares about their little plot of land. This attitude is what will ruin this planet. In the UK we are a nation who demonises a man who kills an animal to feed his family yet we find it impossible to give up the plastic bag.

I realise that this is probably a dead argument as it will never happen but if nothing else being a conservationist means you have to be an optimist in the face of the worst reality!

Long term I think in many parts of the world and especially Africa unless there is a revolution of the like we have never seen in modern history aroud our attitudes then I think fenced fortresses may well be the future.

Wow, now Im depressed

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To fence or not to fence, that is the question.

 

Only Radical Steps Can Save Wildlife In Kenya, Leakey Says reported The New York Times back on May 23rd, 1989.

 

Thus, he sees fencing the parks as the best way to preserve the species from the steady encroachment of agriculture and domestic herds, as well as from poachers' automatic rifles. He envisions the fencing of Tsavo National Park's 8,000 square miles and even the giant ecosystem of the Masai Mara and the bordering Serengetti in Tanzania.

 

To read the full article click here.

 

So almost 25 years ago, Leakey was putting forward the notion of fenced parks in Kenya - what would have been the result for Kenya's wildlife had his plans been followed through? A Kruger esque Kenya, with human encroachment butting up to the fences, a reduction in the decline of wildlife numbers through poaching? Could he have foreseen how sophisticated poaching would become?

 

It would be interesting to speak with him now, all these years down the line for his reflection upon the state of Kenya wildlife conservation in the meantime.

 

At the end of the day, is wildlife safer within fenced in parks? And, safer from whom? Fences surely deter human encroachment, but do they deter the poaching gangs?

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I suggest everyone reads the interview of the Jouberts by Fransje Van Riel, in the latest Africa Geographic issue. Dereck shares his thoughts and idea on "fencing" wild areas by private reserves to keep people out. And he also speaks about the problem in Kenya. He says most of the problems are caused by the animals being state-owned, and that people would protect them much more if they would own them directly.

 

I don't agree with all he said. For example he doesn't believe in "if it pays it stays". This attitude, in my view, is irresponsible. I may not believe in Christianity, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And in the same way; even if he does not believe in economics, it doesn't mean that economics isn't at work when it comes to saving wild areas. But even if I don't agree with all his viewpoints; it's a very good article. Food for thought.

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He says most of the problems are caused by the animals being state-owned, and that people would protect them much more if they would own them directly.

 

And read Calvin Cottar's interview on Safaritalk: he basically puts forward the same points.

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From Whisker Spots to Paradigm Shifts: How to Save the Lions reports blogs.scientificamerican.com

 

Stephanie Dloniak writes...

 

It turns out that lion numbers are highest (closest to expected densities) in the sites that are fenced and have the highest management budgets. Private management also positively affected lion numbers within fenced reserves, whereas the surrounding human population density and trophy hunting impacted negatively on lion numbers within unfenced reserves.

 

Most striking is the fact that it currently costs more than $2000 per km2 to maintain a lion population at just half it’s estimated carrying capacity in an unfenced reserve, but only about $500 per km2 to maintain a population at 80% of carrying capacity in a fenced reserve.

 

To read the full article click here.

 

It seems pretty obvious that to successfully conserve lions we will need to spend a lot more money, and we will need to erect barriers between lions and the increasing human population, which is a paradigm shift back to fortress conservation from current efforts to promote coexistence between lions and people.

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