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Is Fortress Conservation African Wildlife's last hope?
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.
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?
"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.
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.
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.
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.
"Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb.
May be somebody can explain to me what the difference would be in Kenya IF people would own wildlife rather than "people" would own wildlife?
In Kenya all Wildlife belongs to ALL people of Kenya, rather than to specific private landowners. Meaning these specific landowners are not entitled to utilize Wildlife in a consumptive way. But these landowners are entitled to utilize wildlife in a non-consumptive way.
Everybody advocating for private Wildlife Ownership should have a closer look at the situation in South Africa and should Google the export numerbers of wild animals, dead - in parts - or alive.
The latest Craig Packer research is a typical Craig Packer research ... he is modelling the world in his ivory tower and comes up with questionable results.
Packer is comparing 20,000 ha fenced Game Reserves (or even smaller), the 2 exisiting examples for larger fenced off "Eco-Systems" (basically the Greater Kruger and Etosha) with e.g. a 50,000 km² Selous ... and starts talking about easier and more effective Management Opportunities. He is comparing political systems and societies, which cannot be compared that easily.
Packer's proposal is old wine in new bottles and of course he is not thinking about the consequences of fencing in a serious manner.
There have been some public debates about the creation of "Greater Krugers" in Kenya as of late. It is possible from my point of view. But those who think one can just fence off the 1,500 Km² Maasai Mara National Reserve and leave it open towards Tanzania, are ignoring the realities. If you would do this, most of the current animal populations within the Greater Mara would vanish. Stupid fencing kills wildlife rather than conserving it! Look at what happened in Botswana with the fencing initiatives many years ago. Botswana lost huge amounts of wildlife!
If you would like to create a "Greater Kruger" for the Maasai Mara you would need to fence off app. 6,000 Km² of the Greater Mara to keep existing Wildlife Populations. AND you have to find new homes for all the people living in this area! If you would like to fence off the Serengeti, it is not enough to fence off the actual National Park but a much larger area to keep this Eco-System viable ... and you have to find new homes for all the people living there.
To me the latest Packer Research is basically useless as long as he is not coming up with concrete proposals on the execution of his "model", incl. intended and un-intended consequences. I fear that now, as happened with Packer Research in the past, some people pick up on some "isolated facts" and keep pushing for the creation of small fenced Game Reserves following the example of South Africa.
Fortress Conservation is but one of many tools available to managers of conservation areas. The costs are huge - survey and demarcate the boundaries, source, purchase and transport materials to site and erect the fence. Thereafter the fence must be patrolled and maintained. Fences do not last forever and will have to be periodically replaced, the frequency of replacement being mainly determined by conditions such as climate. To keep animals like lion and elephant inside, the fences will have to be electrified, = more costs!
You then have a barrier which keeps most animals inside the park, effectively cutting off migration and gene flow, AND, the fence may reduce, but will not stop the poaching. Where the conservation fortress thus created borders onto communal lands the community may benefit in the following ways:
Short term work for some during the construction phase;
A ready supply of free wire for making snares;
A ready supply of free wire for domestic and personal use;
A handy barrier against which to corner wildlife when you're hunting (inside and outside of the fortress);
A handy place to hang your snares.
Where the conservation fortress borders onto commercial livestock ranches it will be necessary to use jackal-proof fencing in order to also keep "your" jackals/hyenas/wild dogs away from the farmers' livestock, = more costs.
In certain cases fences are appropriate and possibly a necessity for example, where the CA is surrounded by farms. Strategically placed sections of fencing, or fencing a smaller core area within a CA might prove effective in some cases, but when it comes to surrounding large CAs with a perimeter fence forget it, the costs ($s) are just too high, - I doubt if the Kenyan or Tanzanian wildlife departments have the financial means to fence even one of their large PAs. I suspect that in the future many of the small CAs (<30,000ha) will have to be fenced - they will effectively have become islands within a sea of development and agriculture.
I hope it's not too late to add to this thread. I find the topic extremely interesting. There are several issues that I'd like to address:
1) Overpopulation (of people). Population will continue to grow for many years even if female fertility rates were to drop to replacement levels tomorrow. This is dictated by the age profile of the current population (a high % of females yet to enter breeding cohort). Thus, pressures on wildlife will increase unless there is a geographical redistribution of the population. It follows that urbanisation is the best bet for wildlife conservation.
2) @I.P.A.Manning describes "Landsafe" and emphasises the importance of land tenure rights being vested in local communities. @john peter also discusses possible benefits of the establishment of community-based natural resource management areas (CBNRMs). The Northern Rangeland Trust in Kenya seems to set an example in its establishment of Community Conservation Areas. @I.P.A. Manning notes that such action reinstates traditional rights to resources, the very basis of (the communities') culture..." I would like to suggest that this approach to conservation might, in the long run, prove inimical to wildlife, not least because it will delay resettlement and urbanisation of fast expanding numbers of pastoralists.
3) Pastoralist communities are characterised by keeping domesticated stock in numbers well in excess of those needed for the strict requirements of nutrition. Animals are primarily indices of status and wealth. While they can co-exist with wildlife, they nevertheless compete, thus reducing the wildlife biomass potential of a given area. However, often not realised, is the fact that they are potent emitters of green house gases. Methane from domesticated ruminants may be responsible for up to 10% of global warming. While antelopes also produce methane in significant amounts, elephants and zebras don't and these last species would typically account for a highish percentage of the wildlife biomass that could replace domesticated animals. Traditional communities that are multiplying in numbers also contribute to global warming by deforestation. While it is a contentious suggestion, I'd still like to forward the proposition that it would be more desirable to see the destruction rather than the preservation of traditional community culture - if only as a debating point.
4) I am not advocating that communities be robbed, rather that they be encouraged to change culture rather than fossilise it for the benefit of tourists. Currently, central governments tend to underfund traditional community areas. The Community Conservation Areas of the Northern Rangeland Trust get approximately 80% of their funding from foreign donors and very little from home governments, tourism or commercial activities within them. It is hoped that it may be possible to reach a 30% figure for tourism and an equal percentage from commercial activity. However, the supply of tourists is limited and expansion of CCAs could actually reduce income of some by expansion of others. I am unconvinced that a business model based primarily on foreign donations is reliable. However, its reliability might possibly be improved if there was a linkage to climate change reduction through lowering methane emissions and encouragement of afforestation.
5) @john peter referred to a paper dealing with functionality of conservation areas (FCAs). This, as far as I'm concerned is a very interesting question and, as was made clear by others in the discussion, depends upon what it is that one is trying to conserve. If one is dealing with mesoherbivores that migrate seasonally, one must suppose that a given area must contain land appropriate for all seasons. The absolute area, however, could vary with one proviso. If the area is on the smaller end of the spectrum, it may be necessary to exercise some control over predator numbers to maintain healthy populations of mesoherbivores. There has been some research out of Mpala Research Station (Georgiadis) in Laikipia that increasing lion numbers are reducing biodiversity in CAs produced from ex ranches opened for wildlife. I mentioned in a previous post that lions were particularly punishing to Grevy's zebras. It seems unlikely that there is much scope for increasing numbers of FCAs which function without any human intervention against a background of growing population pressure. Equally, pure protection becomes increasingly difficult as the potential economic value of the animal to be protected increases. Obviously, rhinos make the best example. What does one do about excessive numbers within heavily protected fenced areas? Success will bring its own problems. Elephants need large areas, but are also likely to change the nature of the environment they inhabit. Thus, on certain soil types, they'll convert wooded areas to open savannah to the potential detriment of other species. What's the answer? Perhaps its better to fence trees rather than elephants per se or should culling to reasonable numbers be accepted as a form of responsible management?
I missed this one! There's been quite a bit of debate about Craig Packer's fencing paper. He's right to state that most fenced game reserves have populations closer to their carrying capacity. But most fenced game reserves (save 2, Kruger and Etosha) are small. So what's more important for lions? A game reserve close to carrying capacity but having a 'population' of 20 lions, or a game reserve much further from carrying capacity but having >2,000 lions (Selous' for example)? And there are many more of the latter (Serengeti system, Ruaha, Luangwa Valley, Kafue system, Northern Botswana, Northern Zimbabwe, Kalahari, areas in Southern Sudan, Chad, Nyassa).
More on topic: The longer I work in conservation, the more convinced I am that fortress conservation does not work.
Look at large carnivores (wolves, bears) in Europe vs. the US. In Europe large carnivores have started spreading after the EU legislation was implemented from the Bern convention of 1982. This offered protection for those animals on a European scale. Now, those animals are really starting to spread, mostly so in countries in which tolerance for them is highest. The animals are protected, there is tolerance for them, and they manage to sustain themselves outside protected areas.
In the US, I recently attended a talk about conservation. Much emphasis was placed on protecting land, as, was pointed out repeatedly, large carnivores can't live in areas if there are roads and even 1 house per square mile. I asked the presented if that was really true, as large carnivores, all over the world, have shown they can live in close proximity to humans (leopards in suburbs, bears, wolves, striped and spotted hyenas foraging in cities). The presenter agreed. It appears the problem is not the animals, but the (lack of) tolerance of people towards them.
When people live with animals all their lives they're used to them, and tolerate them (to a certain point obviously). When people haven't lived with animals with animals they quickly lose their tolerance and basically have zero tolerance to any impact, whether it's financial or even imaginary threats, by the carnivore/animal. And this tolerance is lost quickly, but regained only very slowly. In the US, apparently, they're not even considering addressing the tolerance as it's such a huge task. But that it can be done is shown in Europe, where there are now twice as many wolves, in half the area with twice the population as in the US, that's a 4 times higher density of wolves in an area with twice the density of people compared to the US!
About two years after stopping to shoot dingo's their social structure was healthy and lifestock losses were minimal, much lower than when they shot dingos.
And a similar example from lions in Botswana:
An interesting presentation from Kevin Macfarlane about his work with lions in the Kalahari in Botswana. From about 46:50 he talks about a lion which sometimes took a cow on a farm. He discussed it with the farmer and warned the farmer not to shoot the lion, even though he sometimes ate a cow. After the 3td cow (in 18 months) the farmer shot the lion, in the next 3 month the farmer lost 52 cows to lions coming into the area.
Most conflict comes from people in rural areas, especially farmers. Laws and minimal margins have made their life hard, and every increase in lost is a blow for them. Even though losses through wolves are minimal (especially compared to losses to drought, disease, road kill, escape) it is something they haven't been used to, don't tolerate and think they can address, so they will. I think there lies a big opportunity for improvement in conservation.
I think I'd have to agree that, aesthetically, fences detract from tourist enjoyment. Equally, at present, it is often possible to get by without them. However, I believe it's necessary to attempt to look into the future, a future that might see population densities increasing by 50% around the edges of CAs and an absence of buffer areas.
You suggest that Europeans are more tolerant of wolves and bears than Americans. How many of the former have been killed in close encounters with these predators? It is my understanding that such is not universally the case for Tanzanians and Indians in respect of big cats (even leopards in India). If one looks at man eating cases, it seems that lack of alternative prey is generally to blame. Thus, close juxtaposition of a CA and intensive agriculture probably maximises the probability of adverse outcomes.
You ask whether it is better to have lions in small, fenced CAs close to their carrying capacities or in larger, unfenced areas further from their maximum carrying capacities. I would suggest that, from the viewpoint of individual animal welfare, being at or close to carrying capacity is bad for a predator species. However, I would also suggest that you're offering a false choice. Although carrying capacity is a concept that is principally governed, in the case of predators, by availability of food supply, the latter will reduce as predator density increases so resulting in cycling of carrying capacity numbers. At times in the cycle when predators have the upper hand, prey biodiversity may be badly impacted. Some species appear to be less capable than others of surviving high predator pressure. By dint of migration, some mesoherbivore species are seasonally absent from predator territories, leaving non migrating ones at much greater risk.
Overall, I'd agree with you that large FCAs, requiring minimum human intervention in terms of management, are the ideal. However, such areas are likely to come under increasing pressure if human populations on their peripheries are allowed to grow. This is why I previously suggested that urbanisation might be positive for wildlife. Urbanisation could be regarded as a possible alternative to the need for fencing.
Even if smaller CAs cannot be fully functional, they have the potential to offer great conservation benefits even if the numbers of apex predators within them may sometimes have to be controlled. At the very least, they can offer havens for those species that are even more threatened than lions.
As always the answer is maybe not: Shall we do only this or only that! Only fenced or only big wildlife areas without fence? It is not black or white it is a lot of gray.
We need both big wildlife areas and also the smaller or not so small heavily managed areas. The few big areas that are left should be protected there are not so many left and to have wildlife ONLY behind a fence would be really sad.
Hunting is one way to preserve big really wild areas wild and photo tourism another way in appropriate areas.
To take away tse tse flies is not so good it open up some of the last truly wild areas for cattle and settlements. To let malaria continue, is cruel and really bad, for myself I could never never justify that path.
Overpopulation yes maybe, but not always look at Europe they are heavily overpopulated except in the north. It is hard to argue this if you look at this figures down below.
People per square kilometers 2014.
45 South Africa
So maybe it is not overpopulation that is the biggest threat or should we give Indians and Germans more deceases so they die in grater numbers?
Managing a growing population and keep the wildlife areas wild is important but not by being cruel!! When your child dies from malaria maybe you think differently, or do you have money enough just like me that malaria is not really a threat and in that case is it ok to let poor people die from malaria but not richer people, and not you!?
I get afraid of some of the comments they seem a little bit too much for my liking let the strong and rich people live on, the weak should die!! Germany tried that in the 30 and 40s it is called Nazism!
To preserve wildlife and wild areas we need to make sure that these areas has a value in people’s eyes. This has been proven again and again, if the wildlife is not worth anything people will not let it live that’s the case all over the world.
How to do this is a big question and it varies between the areas of course. Hunting or tourism is one solution there are several more solutions, and also good examples around the world and in Africa.
But something needs to be done and soon if we want our world to still have wildlife
I've edited out my own comments to start a new debate specifically dedicated to Nairobi National Park, which I've started here.
@Tomas apologies if your points directly relate to my posts about Nairobi Nat. Park, feel free to add them in the new discussion.
Oh and I am sorry to I am just reading al comments in this post so I haven’t read them al it for ex your post about Nairobi nat park i read the first starting thread end then some of the first comments about not eradicating malaria so more people die!