The Shocking Slaughter of Africa's Wildlife

Article excerpt

The shocking slaughter of Africa's wild life

THE wild life of eastern Africa is the wonder and envy of the rest of the world. Unique in abundance and variety, it has been gravely diminished in the past and is seriously threatened in the immediate future. Its natural habitats and wild lands cover more than half of its immense area, and are of tremendous potential importance if properly used. But they too have been reduced in extent, their value has been sadly reduced by improper use and they are threatened with drastic misdevelopment in the immediate future.

The future of African wild life is bound up with that of the conservation of natural resources. Both are now in the balance. The next five or at most ten years will be decisive in determining whether they are headed downhill towards a point of no return, or set on the upward path of beneficial development.

Let me state the African situation in ecological terms. The ecological problem is fundamentally one of balancing resources against human needs, both in the short and in the long term. It thus must be related to a proper evaluation of human needs, and it must be based on resource conservation and resource use, including optimum land use and conservation of the habitat.

Over the whole of south-eastern Africa, the wild life resource has been shoclingly reduced from its astonishing past abundance. In spite of this, the wild life of this region is still a resource of unique value. It must be preserved both as an object of study and as a spectacle to be enjoyed. Its scientific study is a necessary basis for proper land use policies, and an increasing number of people from all over the world are finding unique satisfaction and interest in it as a spectacle.

Proper management of wild lands can yield a large crop of meat as well as numerous ancillary animal and plant products. The meat-crop could in particular areas be commercially profitable, but of more general importance is the fact that it would go a long way to satisfying the Africans' meat-hunger, which springs from the region's marked protein deficiency.

This in turn would help in reducing the threat of poaching to African wild life. …