Botswana and Zambia, two premier wildlife destinations, recently banned all trophy hunting within a few months of each other. This move heralds a major shift in thinking about how Africa’s wildlife resources will be managed in the future. Why did they do this? In short: Corruption fueling unsustainable hunting and poaching threatens species survival. Photographic safari operators have been taking over the premier safari destinations from hunting operations for decades. What is the future of sport hunting in Mozambique and Zimbabwe where the same problems exist?
Africa is home to the largest remaining migrations on earth, the last prides of lion, the gorillas and chimpanzees, and most of the remaining elephant and rhinoceros. All kept safe on the most valuable wildlife properties on the planet.
Are we adequately protecting priceless wildlife resources? Right now, tourists from around the world coming to Africa to photograph the continent’s wildlife are the biggest conservationists by far. The operators and establishment owners that attract these tourists by selling the dream of an African photographic safari are the new ambassadors for conservation.
“Putting bums in beds” is funding millions of square miles of protected areas throughout Africa. Ecotourism adds value to wilderness by creating jobs and teaching people to be proud of their wildlife. We need to do everything possible to make all major safari destinations in Africa accessible and marketable. Travelers must feel safe when they come to Africa.
Africa’s “Great Work”, the extraordinary monument to the peoples of Africa, is the vast wildernesses that have remained wild since the dawn of time. This could, at long last, be the “African Century” with a united continent benefitting from vast mineral and fossil fuel reserves. More education, more opportunity, more prosperity without waste. A rising Africa wants to protect the continent’s natural heritage and global legacy.
Saving the great parks and wildernesses of Africa is becoming part of African national pride. Botswana must be proud that they have the largest remaining elephant population on earth. As South Africans we must be proud to have the largest rhino population in the world. Rwanda must be proud of the mountain gorilla. Tanzania proud of the largest lion population anywhere.
Africans are beginning to realize that our wilderness areas are not endless and that what we have left, the Serengeti, Okavango, Congo, Luangwa, Massai-Mara, Kruger, Namib… are, in fact, global treasures to be proud of. Africa needs things to be proud of in these troubled times.
We saw this beautiful elephant on the banks of now flowing Boteti River in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana.
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