There is a growing and unacceptable imposition of western morals on wildlife conservation and management in Africa, especially southern Africa.
The Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, said what many of us feel, “initiatives to ban trophy hunting not only represent an unacceptable modern form of moral colonialism, but will have detrimental effects on our local communities and our wildlife”
This is a true and powerful statement and needs to be echoed around the world. There is an arrogance and self righteousness about these initiatives to ban trophy hunting. It is insulting to Africans whose relationship with wildlife is being increasingly ignored or overridden by the imposition of western morals.
Again these sentiments are repeated by Zimbabwe on the proposal to move lion and elephants from CITES 2 to CITES 1.
President Emmerson Mnangagwe says the proposals “are tantamount to interfering with the countries sovereign right to its wildlife resources which it has successfully managed since independence. Many of these countries proposing these CITES upliftings, have no land set aside for wildlife and have devastated their wildlife, are now trying to dictate to Zimbabwe on how to manage its game. “We are being punished for good wildlife management” says Mnangagwe.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe says “our very philosophy of sustainable utilization is under attack. The proposals negate all conservation work that we are world renowned for”
Increasingly it appears that 1st world conservation solutions and practices are being imposed in Africa primarily for the satisfaction of first world citizens and not for the benefit of the Africans who have always lived and benefited from wildlife.
Most of these western morals deny African communities benefits from wildlife. They favor protectionism of wildlife and not sustainable utilization. How much benefit could African communities have derived from the mountains of ivory that Kenya burnt? How much funding could go into protection of rhino if there was a regulated trade in harvested horn? How much more could be earned for black rhino conservation and communities in Namibia if the animal rights groups didn’t target and threaten the hunter? Who is behind the proposals to uplift all elephants and all lions to CITES 1 despite over populations in some countries and well managed areas?
It is time for us to reject the imposition of western conservation ideas that have no relevance to impoverished Africans. The South African government should join Namibia and Zimbabwe in rejecting the moral solutions of the first world and to find our own solutions for our conservation challenges, solutions that resonate with the people of Africa.