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Thursday
May252017

Conservation In Africa - Africa Day  2017

With its vast swathes of grassland, rich verdant jungles and ocean-like deserts, each home to incredibly diverse wildlife, Africa is for many of us the definition of wilderness. However much of the continent’s pristine nature is severely threatened by human activity, creating the need for progressive and innovative conservation strategies:

Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage

The World Heritage of Africa has long been recognised for its cultural and ecological significance, with several papers, plans and proposals focused on its preservation. Published in 2015, the African Union’s “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” highlights the value of African heritage and calls for investment in existing World Heritage Sites by developing a framework for the adoption of African Heritage Sites. This framework is set to be rolled out by 2025.

The Agenda also proposes a tenfold increase on the number of African Heritage Sites by 2063, and to implement traditional management strategies on all sites to maintain the sustainable symbiosis between local communities and nature.

Protecting African heritage in such a way will also pave the way for sustainable development as this Agenda, alongside others, also focuses on minimising greenhouse gas emissions and creating economies resilient to climate change. Concessions granted in the past for fossil fuel extraction, sometimes even within Africa’s World Heritage Sites, have disrupted nature, exacerbated climate change and made areas more easily accessible to poachers.

flickr | Richard MortelAn example of this is Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve; established in 1982 as a prime example of undisturbed nature, there were soon-after over 50 mining concessions, 6 oil and gas concessions and 5 active mines in and around the reserve. The subsequent impact saw Selous added to the World Heritage Danger List in 2014.

Damage from extractive activity is oftentimes irreversible and does not run in line with Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015/16. Therefore current efforts are trying to halt all future fossil fuel concessions, instead advocating the greater long-term returns from sustainable development.

One such benefit is stabilised local economies through the preservation of Natural Heritage, whereby facilitating sustainable energy pursuits and opportunities for ecotourism and education would exceed the benefits of unsustainable short-term gain.

Innovative Conservation Efforts

As threats to species become more prominent and advanced so too do the conservation efforts to preserve them. This can be seen in the current preservation and anti-poaching efforts of one of Africa’s flagship species: the Rhino.

flickr | Frank KehrenWhite Rhino

Northern African White Rhinos have been so severely poached that only 3 individuals remain, 2 of which are female. A contemporary conservation effort saw the creation of a Tinder dating profile for the last male Northern African White Rhino, named Sudan, in an attempt to raise funds and awareness of their plight. Sudan along with the other females are under 24 hour armed guard in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and the money raised from the Tinder stunt is to be used to fund an IVF breeding programme.

Black Rhino

The African Black Rhino is also in a bad way, classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, but is on the rise in part by incorporating technology into conservation. In 2013 a WWF funded programme to microchip every Black Rhino in Kenya was launched. Embedded in the horns of tranquilised Black Rhino, the microchips would allow their movements to be tracked and monitored and if an individual was poached the horn could be tracked and traced back to the poachers, making it easier to convict. This, combined with several other conservation efforts, has doubled the number of Black Rhino to 5000 over the past two decades.  

Other innovative efforts include the production of commemorative wines such as The Lion King in memory of Cecil the lion, and Rhino’s Tears to highlight the rate of poaching. The money raised from selling the wines goes directly into Lion conservation and Rhino anti-poaching projects.

The innovation of these strategies is admirable but their necessity is heart-breaking. Africa is striving towards sustainability, but conservation efforts will have to remain ever-vigilant and ever-adaptable until this is achieved. 

By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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