Mankind: Critically Endangered to Suffer loss of its Wildlife Heritage


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By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Field A_2010_07_29_0436_250x375pxYou have all heard that saying about the elephant in the room… it’s a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth which goes unaddressed. It’s a risk that nobody wants to discuss. Our elephant in the room is as real as it will ever get, yet everyone is sticking their heads in the sand, to excuse another idiom. In the news this week is the story that a recent three year survey has “revealed a dramatic 30 percent decline in savannah elephant populations.” i

African lion populations have been declining rapidly too. Some say that 75 percent of the lions have been wiped out in the last 50 years. The world lion population is estimated at between 25 and 30 thousand… that is barely more than twice the number of athletes at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. By the next games, Olympians may well outnumber lions in Africa.

One doesn’t have to search too hard for information to establish the dramatic decline in the now critically endangered rhinoceros populations, the now vulnerable lions, not to mention Grizzly Bear, the Polar Bear and the Great White Shark. These species are still being hunted. You would have thought man would be smart enough to realise his destruction of our environment. But no, we are told this is conservation.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) lists 18 species as critically endangered. Nearly half of those species are African! A further 30 species are simply endangered, with African Wild Dog topping the list and a few other African species being prominent. ii One might begin to point fingers towards incompetent governance, corruption, land encroachment and poaching. They are all rife in Africa. We might well cry loud about the insatiable Asian demand for animal parts too. We know the hunters will also rush to defend their patch.

Take as an example the case of the rhinoceros, killed for the horny growth on their forehead to make dagger handles and used supposedly as an Eastern medical remedy. Zimbabwe’s wildlife parks have succumbed almost entirely to being poached out. There are an estimated 800 rhinoceros left in Zimbabwe almost all of which are in privately owned parks in the hands of rhino conservationists, but even those are under attack, often with filthy politicians being complicit! Twice the number of rhinoceros were poached in 2015 compared with the previous year!

National Parks and Wildlife Management in Zimbabwe recently ventured into dehorning rhinoceros in what is described as a desperate attempt to stop poaching. One wonders what will happen to the horn? Will they destroy it or will it be whittled off to some Chinese trader to enrich some politician or bureaucrat? Why have National Parks not destroyed the huge stock of ivory in their possession? Who has his eye on future enrichment?

The point is, we are awash with information on the problem, yet nobody with the power at their disposal has the courage to stand firm on real conservation of African species. The solutions can only lie in Africa. Yes we have a whole army of tree huggers, conservationists, and animal lovers barking at the world, but nothing they do will reverse the trend. Indeed it is like one man trying to push over an African Mahogany tree; with his head.

Governments need to prioritise actions to reduce the destruction of our African heritage. We as wildlife enthusiasts need to boot them in the right direction. Organised Wildlife needs to speak out and become more prominent and active in this fight. Sadly, if they don’t and during my lifetime, the rhino population will have dwindled to naught, lions will have gone too and the elephants will perhaps survive me on the critically endangered list. What great African wildlife heritage we are leaving to our grandchildren!

i Agence France-Press
ii World Wildlife Fund

A Liberal Dose of Whimpering


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Picture by Dan Hodgson – @darkroom

There was a huge flash of whimpering, egalitarian, liberal sentiment following Donald Trump’s infamous little quip about barring Muslims entry into the United States. The bigot, how dare he! Sure, to any sensible thinking person, it was a ludicrous thing to say, especially on the campaign trail, he being obviously expectant of the peoples support. It is all rather farcical only because Trump, well knowingly, uttered his thoughts in the ferment of a rather too liberal society. His words were intended to shock, if not wake up a blinkered, apparently big-hearted, electorate. As the old cliché suggests, they truly do walk among us.

The indignant outrage of Western society is a touch preposterous, perhaps more so than the very pronouncement by our prime, all American, presidential hopeful clown. It has stimulated division within his own ranks and most certainly the extremes of society; it has created victims in the Western Muslim community further exacerbating the ‘dangers’ of living in a free, decadent society, and thus creating a cause; and, heaven forbid, it has been truly rough abrasion for simply nice people who cannot see the wood for the trees.

Perhaps we need to reflect on Trump’s words and the reaction to them a little more carefully. What we are seeing here is egalitarian liberalism forcing the suppression of freedoms, rather than advocating them. We may not like what Trump had to say, but he had the right to say it. One does protest a little too much. Thus, those rights and freedoms espoused are, perhaps, the very same liberties that allow others to do Western society harm. The fact is, Islamic terrorism, through its many variants is well intent on doing harm in Western Judeo/Christian society.

There are many taboos in Western society in the interests of political correctness. The late Christopher Hitchens once wrote about unwelcome attention received in response to essays written ‘defending the right of Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers to publish their views’. He averred,

“I did this because I think a right is a right and also because if this right is denied to one faction, it will not stop there.”

How right he was. Laws criminalising Holocaust denial are already being extended to the criticism of Islamist sentiment, clearly the single biggest threat to Western society today. Laws prohibiting so called hate crime, or the motivation of racial, sexual or other prejudices, involving violence, are blossoming in Western society. They deny our right to free speech, we cannot offer vitriol and contempt to our worst enemy. Yet our enemy is at liberty to offer his! How soon will it be an offence to condemn mass immigration?

For Islamists, to achieve their objectives, it is inherent that they should subvert and deploy people of their ilk, religion and culture, in other words, those select, unwitting Muslims who have integrated into Western societies. Yes, it is a broad sweeping brush, but it will be those from this community who wish to destroy or more rather have infidel Western society succumb to their religious zeal. Islamists, seemingly, have the right to hate and destroy, while Western society has its hands tied through ignorance and passivity. One might begin to understand Trump’s clear frustration, albeit the man is a fool.

Liberalism is about freedoms and rights, which makes it all the more astonishing why liberal minded people have denied Trump the right to his freedom of speech; the right to dislike a certain sector of the community who pose a threat to their well-being. Dislike, and indeed distrust, is not hatred. How can anybody like and trust those who seek to destroy our cultural and religious values? People cannot expect to uphold the rights of those who would destroy them, while suppressing the rights of those who believe their ideas and policies may prevent such destruction. It is a grey line, much like hate crime, but Western society needs to get is head out of the sand!

And for those still blurting their anti-Trump vitriol, of course you have the right to do so, but take note: Muslims do not have a right to visit the United States, nor migrate to Europe. It is actually a very liberal privilege.

PRISM and Tempora: Unholy Tapping Alliance or Portcullis


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIIt seems rather strange that there is such indignant protest that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has been trolling social media, gathering intelligence. Even more umbrageous objection arises from the allegation that some of this intelligence is being shared with Unites States’ allies, principally the United Kingdom. The pinnacle dissent in this debacle seems to be that your trustworthy and friendly social networking site has allowed ‘Uncle Sam’ backdoor access to all your data, which of course they all deny.

Let us smell the salts here. Intelligence gathering has recorded biblical roots from the days when Moses sent twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan. Spying is labelled by some as the second oldest profession, but, perhaps, commands less respect than the first. While war with ones foes has been the catalyst of espionage motivation generally, home revolution, subversion and civil dissension have turned the practice inward, thus targeting citizen opinion.

The core of good intelligence interception is communication. Message snatching has moved from bribing or disabling the messenger to sophisticated methods of “wire-tapping” designed to monitor a broader spectrum of interests and thus glean more intelligence. Electronic eavesdropping forms a major part of most intelligence operations the world over today. The intelligence agencies have moved with the technology and social networking just had to fall within their sites.

Back in the 1960s the Western allies introduced ECHELON, the global electronic eves-dropping system; a late Cold War need to intercept then COMECON military and diplomatic communications traffic. With the waning of the Cold War, ECHELON turned its attention to the collection and analysis of private and commercial communications using radio, microwave, cellular, fibre-optic, cyber and celestial (satellite) communications, known by the acronym SIGINT. It continues to operate today and we have known about it for years. The Chinese are doing it, as are the Russians.

Now we have PRISM bursting onto the world stage, thanks in part to whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who is current sought by the United States. PRISM (described as an activity designator – thus the acronym SIGAD) is a complimentary process of the wider reigning ECHELON and a primary source of US and sometimes Western intelligence. The process of activity designation prioritises intercepts based on their worth, perhaps through a process of key word/phrase analysis. Thus, most of the drivel we write hits the waste bins of the NSA. The ‘good stuff’ is pumped into massive non linear databases, making the GDR Stasi’s Department 26 look like kindergarten.

According to leaked NSA documents, social networking giants (Facebook, Google, Skype and Yahoo were named) and some of the big five (Microsoft and Apple included) allowed direct access to their servers and databases by the PRISM system! All deny the access, one stating that they were ‘really protective of the information our users have provided’ – attributed to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Director of Engineering. Yet the United States government obtained over three billion items from cyber communications networks in just March 2013 alone. Where did it come from?

Edward Snowden and those documents he leaked suggest United Kingdom complicity in the scheme of things, yet British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, re-acting to the PRISM exposé, told Parliament,

“Our agencies practice and uphold U.K. law at all times… To intercept the content of any individual’s communications in the UK requires a warrant signed personally by me, the Home Secretary, or by another Secretary of State. This is no casual process. Every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice. Warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted, and we judge them on that basis.”

Who is the Pinocchio here? The British SIGINT operation at GCHQ, which feeds United Kingdom intelligence, is tapping into fibre-optic communication links and drawing data for analysis over a 30 day holding period in an intelligence operation called Tempora. This is not a suspect targeted operation. The information, from both innocent citizens and security suspects, is shared with the NSA in dubious exchanges, perhaps for PRISM intelligence. Is this legal, Mr Hague, or is it just another ‘porky’ offered to cover your backs?

Be very afraid if you are a terrorist or a criminal so naïve as to chat about your dirty deeds in cyberspace or on any legitimate communications network. Big brother is really watching now. We know that, and it may not be legal, but really people who complain the most about privacy violations by social networks are in fact their own worst enemies. It is these same people who share their achievements, plans and wishes, if not there inner-most secrets, in social media. The message here is keep your private data to yourselves, but surely this would defeat the object of social networking.

While some may dillydally innocently, others spin sinister plots and revolution foolishly oblivious to reality on these sophisticated networks. We have come to trust the integrity of our communications platforms and social networks; and we clearly believe we should enjoy some right to privacy. This is a mythical right, since the wicked World cannot work like that in an age of fundamentalist terrorism.

PRISM and other similar systems, like Tempora, have built up complex profiles about you, but you only have yourself to blame for gullibly feeding the system. Our sudden indignity about all this snooping does amuse, and must surely rank in the naivety stakes with those who believe the myth of the tooth fairy. We know it is happening and this makes it all the more nauseating that filthy politicians choose to deny the instruments of their intelligence gathering apparatus.

Is the Battle for the Rhinoceros on its Last Legs?


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XISouthern African conservation of the rhinoceros is severely threatened despite years of intensive preservation effort, mostly by private enterprise and non-governmental entities. Renewed demand for rhinoceros horn, basically a material called keratin, similar to hair and nails, has stepped up the pressure upon Africa’s most treasured fauna heritage. Criminal syndicates are hard at play while African governments slumber.

It is estimated that near 95 percent of all rhinoceros horn poached in southern Africa ends up in the Far East. China is often cited as a major consumer nation, yet the probability is that Vietnam may well be more predominant. Vietnam can hardly be proud that she lost her last Javan rhinoceros to poachers in 2010. With Asian rhinoceros numbers now depleted, to shamefully low levels, the East is looking at its new frontier of horn supply, Africa.

The principle cause of foreign demand is perceived pharmacological benefit in treating high fevers, influenza, hepatitis, and leukaemia amongst other things, according to ancient Chinese writings. Yet, no medical research in the last 30 years has concurred with these antediluvian authors. Asian rhinoceros horn is considered more potent than that of its African cousin and commands a five-fold higher price too. Alas for Africa, superior horn from the now critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinoceros, the latter disgracefully down to a mere world population of just 30 animals, is nearly impossible to acquire!

Africa is not just victim to this effect, but catalyst to the cause as well. The ‘great white’ hunters of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries set a poor precedent in animal slaughter, but poverty would, today, seem a principle cause. This is a by-product of Africa’s heritage and political mismanagement; the doctrine of want, greed and destruction; conflict and warfare; and all the apparent misdemeanours of post-colonial government. Such poverty has presented opportunity for both indigenous poacher (who would never benefit from the live animal in the wild) and foreign trafficker alike.

Picture ©2008 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) sums it up succinctly,

“A lack of political support and will power for conservation efforts in many rhino habitats, international organized crime groups targeting rhinos and increasing illegal demand for rhino horns and commercial poaching are the main threats faced by rhinos.”

Africans have been far too passive in controlling the poaching scourge. Inadequate policing; ineffective legislation; poor conservation awareness and consequent pittance budgets are germane. Misdirected land policies; political attitude with hapless foresight in the face of many other priorities, usually brought about by greed, patronage, corruption and incompetence, contribute to poaching successes, trafficking wealth, and foreign demand.

Trafficking rhinoceros horn has become a lucrative business, so much so, that even the official keepers of Africa’s wildlife heritage are succumbing to its temptations. Your average poacher has stepped up the sophistication ladder too, armed with high powered rifles; state of the art darting equipment and specialist sedative drugs; chain saws; night vision instruments and helicopters as well. Often, the horn ‘reaping’ resources of criminal syndicates far ‘outgun’ those of the protectors. It has become a no win situation for Africa.

Trade in African rhinoceros horn is becoming so lucrative that opinions in some parts of the conversation camp are turning towards legitimising its trade. To some, that would be akin to decriminalising drug trafficking because the problem has become too large and too hot to handle. A few thousand rhinoceros in the wild are hardly likely to service the demand of a quarter of the world’s population. Massive breeding and livestock rearing programmes would be needed: something way outside the capacity of ‘developing world’ coffers and way down the priority list too. The scale is just too immense, besides poached horn is free, or at least cheap.

Pertinently, Africa can hardly feed itself, yet alone nurture its wildlife. Can Africa look to its Eastern horn market for help? Strange as that may seem, Asia, being the principle source of demand, has not seen fit to properly conserve or indeed escalate or ‘farm’ its own rhinoceros populations to service horn demand. Why should they? The ease with which Asia has managed to supplement dwindling supplies of, albeit less powerful, horn out of Africa should be ringing bells loud and long for African politicians.

Conservationists have been tolling these bells for decades. Zimbabwe’s Campfire programme has long identified the need to allow poor rural communities, the have-nots, to be rewarded and benefit from their wildlife heritage through conservation projects alongside the wealthy. Could African communities, using Campfire styled strategies, benefit from massive rhinoceros breeding schemes and how effectively could governments protect their efforts if they did? It seems that this has been left to private enterprise, which is actually stifled by regulatory control against trading the horn they reap from living, rather than slaughtered, beasts.

Little doubt the debate will continue, but swift action is now the only hope. In the meantime, Africa’s rhinoceros populations are on the decline, being decimated, following the Asian trend. Clearly, Far Eastern nations, responsible for the destruction of African fauna, need to play their critical role in controlling illicit trade, yet that outcome is remote.

That leaves the issue squarely in the hands of poorly resourced Africans. It does not bode well for the rhinoceros, short of implementing some rather draconian measures. How does one expect African governments to fair against illicit horn syndicates when more powerful and better resourced nations have failed against the drug cartels? The other option is to succumb to legitimisation of trade in horn. That will only enhance our acceleration towards extinction of the species because, seemingly, Africans lack the will and capacity to change and have run out of time to alter their course.

“Despite the action of conservation programmes, 25% of mammals are at risk of extinction. For example, the reassessments of several Rhinoceros species show that the subspecies of the Black Rhino in western Africa, the Western Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) has officially been declared Extinct. The subspecies of the White Rhino in central Africa, the Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is currently teetering on the brink of extinction and has been listed as Possibly Extinct in the Wild. The Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is also making its last stand, as the subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus is probably Extinct, following the poaching of what is thought to be the last animal in Viet Nam in 2010.” – IUCN

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Corrupt States: Outcome Choices – Democracy or Revolution


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XI
One may ask, is there some correlation between democracy and corruption? It would seem there is.
Those countries with autocratic or ‘president for life’ dictatorships, or those that suffer democracy challenges, seem to have a higher ranking, for being lofty in their corruptness, than those with more stable democracies. The recently released Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010 appears to suggest this when compared with other indices.

It is common purpose for lesser free nations to impose extreme controls to sustain their autocratic rule, and this depends upon an array of punitive legislation; a strong securotocracy of partisan service chiefs; systems of patronage, where Peter is robbed to pay Paul, in other words, the party faithful; and a generally kleptocratic ethos, opening up the stratagem for filthy corruption. Sound familiar? Zimbabwe is no stranger to this and is certainly no alien to its poor ranking on the corruption scales.

Zimbabwe, which was ranked joint 154th (with 11 other nations), of the 182 countries surveyed, joins a few other countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region with similar poor ranking and likewise dodgy democracy records. Within the SADC region Zimbabwe is brought together with two others at the bottom of the corruption cesspool, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The top three (least corrupt) in SADC are Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles (Namibia and South Africa follow, regionally, in 4th and 5th place respectively).

If one looks at the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index rankings… there is a striking resemblance in their rankings, give or take a few juxtaposed grades and one major exception. Swaziland ranks highly amongst least corrupt, but is rated low on the democracy rankings; synonymous with its monarchic plutocracy, perhaps. Despite this, generally, rank correlation between democracy and corruption is distinctly apparent.

The EIU index places Zimbabwe, Angola and the DRC at the bottom of the SADC democracy standings, while Botswana and Mauritius are top ranking (most democratic) SADC nations (the Seychelles seems not to have been surveyed by the EIU). Here of course is another exception, the Seychelles has strayed from democracy in recent years and perhaps it is only time before the corruption sets in there; if the supposition is correct.

If this hypothesis is anywhere near decent, then, clearly, the solutions to Zimbabwe’s corruption lay with re-democratization of the nation. The people seem to want this, but are far from ready to demonstrate their will. Some years back, Zimbabwe was actually ranked 65th in the TI rankings. This is when the economy was faring reasonably well and the then popular party was getting its own way in power sustenance. There were no threats against the king. Perhaps the corruption ranking was skewed.

Then, about came change…the politicians went and spoiled it all. There was popular resistance to constitution change, which would have entrenched the Mugabe regime; then mindless forays into the DRC to fight another dictator’s squabbles; land seizures, theft and gluttony; denial of freedoms; suppression of transparency; explosion of inflation and consummate hunger; and now indigenisation; and some even say a military coup by proxy.

The people began to resist autocratic leadership and from there on it has been a slide down the slippery slope of political self indulgence, benefiting only the kleptocracy and its patronised bureaucracy. Zimbabwe skidded to its worst on record corruption ranking in 2009 become the 11th most corrupt nation of 180 countries surveyed. All that in just 10 short years, the root cause being simply to sustain a single individual in power, so they say; with his lackey coterie reaping the trappings of his protectionism and patronage. The once popular party now has some of the wealthiest politicians; one has to presume, being the product of lousy, edacious graft.

Some may take heart that Zimbabwe has actually climbed the rankings in 2010. Can we say this is probably the prize of a Government of National Unity (GNU), with ‘new kids’ on the block? Well perhaps not. It does not seem that those ‘new kids’ will be any different. There is a growing cynicism, a new mood, which suggests any new broom, brought about by greater democracy, may not sweep quite as clean as it should. This goes against the theory.

More recently people have been pointing at the nation’s pro-democracy Prime Minister and his apparently scandalous personal affairs presently in the public domain. This is sad and consequently issues of trust are now being raised, personal failures translate to susceptibilities elsewhere. Add to this Zimbabwe’s recent, wealthiest in the World, discovery of diamonds, and one might surmise, unfairly perhaps, that the scales will tip even further down the corruption order, no matter how democratic the nation becomes.

This should be troublesome indeed for Zimbabwe’s new breed of politicians, while the older ones look over their shoulders. The race here must be who gets to the post first, true democracy or the powder keg of violent revolution. We should draw from the fact that famine may purge southern Africa in the months ahead… if we are to believe this, then Zimbabwe could well run short of food, a clear melting pot for dissent. North Africa chose violent revolution, and while the parallels are few; corruption, personal and political self indulgence were core causes. In those primers there are parallels aplenty for Zimbabwe.

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Back to School Blues: Zimbabwe gets the Dunce’s Cap


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIRecently, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation published its extremely comprehensive rankings of African governance providing a pretty interesting insight. On their web site, the Foundation indicates that it compiles its measure of ‘effective delivery of public goods and services to citizens’ from no less that 86 indicators and from 23 data providers. Saliently, Zimbabwe is not doing too well. Out of the 53 African countries surveyed, Zimbabwe ranks 51st. That is shocking, though not surprising.

The categorisation of governance into four principal areas and Zimbabwe’s ranking therein must surely be a cause for concern. Principally Zimbabwe ranks second last in the category “Sustainable Economic Opportunity”. This surely cannot be too proud a moment for Zimbabwe’s leadership, beating only Somalia (score of 3.6/100 versus Zimbabwe 24.5) as the worst country in Africa within the category. The sorriest sub-category is apparently Zimbabwe’s business environment – ranked 52nd (scoring a mere 9.3 %) – perhaps a true reflection of government’s racist and xenophobic policies angled towards indigenisation. With a per capita GDP of just US$131, one may guess, one should not expect more.

In the category “Safety and Rule of Law”, Zimbabwe steps up to 51st place with a score of only 28.2%, whipping the two bad boys in the class, Sudan (21.0%) and rotten Somalia with 4.8%. Not surprisingly within the category Zimbabwe ranked poorly with respect to Accountability, but also a very low score for “Personal Safety”. That latter score needs to be opened up a bit, since for all intense and purpose Zimbabwe is a peaceful country, except when it seemingly spills blood in election campaigning mode. The nation has not had elections recently, but reported incidents of party political violence continue to sully the record.

FlickrHarareFirst

The nation is ranked 47th in the category “Participation and Human Rights” and 42nd in “Human Development”. It is not all bad, Zimbabwe did not do too poorly with a sub-category labelled “Infrastructure”, but then we know Zimbabwe inherited one of the best structured nations in Africa, probably only second to South Africa at the time, from its Rhodesian or perhaps colonial benefactors. Zimbabwe ranked 15th for Infrastructure. Encouragingly, Zimbabwe ranked 24th in Africa for Education. Top scores in the survey, for Zimbabwe, were in the categories Health (56/100) and National Security 55%. Those are the only two subjects passed!

Zimbabwe’s overall score card is a sad 31 percent, which in most of our books is a failure, it is well below the African and the regional Southern African averages, and has been for the last few years. Clearly, it is back to school for Zimbabwe. The nation should not object to wearing the dunce’s cap and standing in the corner, but the fact is there is no headmaster nor wicked teacher to punish not so sparingly with the rod.

Political self criticism is just too suicidal in Africa, no politician can do wrong, so it will be up to the people to bring about change. The problem is that the people don’t see these indicators as a measure of success or failure, it is they who are getting the stick from those who should be sanctioned for this abysmally poor performance. Does anyone care?
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Source:
Mo Ibrahim Foundation – http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org

Visit Andrew’s Simply Wild Photography photo blog… you will not regret doing so!

Political Game Conservation Woes


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIZimbabwe’s south eastern Lowveld features a number of intensive natural conservation areas and the Gonarezhou National Park, a wildness region destined to form part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The domain of the Transfrontier Park is expected to see its international boundaries (between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe) rubbed off the map in a way, allowing free migration of its wildlife and encouraging an influx of tourism. It is an area blessed with abundant beauty and some unique flora and fauna.

While fences along these political boundaries may fall, other political boundaries are being overstepped and perverted by a provincial ‘ruling elite’. The south east has become a war zone, yet again, with hapless wildlife being the victims of the onslaught and enduring politics of jealousy. Are we experiencing the last desperate struggle of a party which has lost its way?

For several months now, self-styled, lackey war veterans, most of whom have never fired a weapon in anger, and grass root, crooked politicians have been gnawing away at the Save Valley and Chiredzi River Conservancies; and nearby national parks, principally Gonarezhou. They are making claims for the landless, knocking down game fences, bush clearing, burning and looting the nation’s natural posterity. Along the trail of this destruction have come the poachers and wood looters, under the umbrella of political confusion, demolishing both beast and woodland in an orgy of greed and destruction.

Giraffe Snared Chiredzi River Conservancy – Author Anonymous

Trade in precious hardwoods for fuel is brisk. Glorious elephant are slain for their ivory tusks, magnificent rhino slaughtered for horn, and several fine feline species destroyed for their skins. Delicate vegetation is being burnt out and replaced with huts, tillage and domestic livestock, in areas which will not support sustained cropping without irrigation. Zimbabweans are devastating their own assets in a narrow minded frenzy of rapacity, but politics is very much at its base. It is African anarchy at its worst.

Zimbabwe has long suffered an era of lawlessness in the name of felonious change aimed mostly at commercial (or white) agriculture. The land grab of the last decade was carried out with impunity by these same dullard, if not misguided, war veterans who now pillage the conservancies and national parks. The land grab reduced foreign agricultural revenues and turned the nation into a net importer of food.

No one is learning the lessons here and most are actually denying they exist. Dim politicians, with no long term perspective, are turning their xenophobic attention to foreign (rather white owned) business, but their victims are no longer just white folk. The nation’s unparalleled wildlife heritage is being pillaged in the process too. It is very much a case of ‘cutting off the nose to spite the face’ (or perhaps better put, ‘line the pocket’).

Elephant shot Chiredzi River Conservancy – Author Anonymous

Die hard conservationists have been distraught at the damage being caused, not because they own the land, or have a stake in the business conducted thereon, but because the very core of conservation is under attack by reckless politicians who, clearly, lack morale fibre. Land claims may arguably manifest a cause, but Zimbabwe has been through that disastrous process already.

Much of the land acquired (some suggest stolen) now lays fallow in once richly yielding intensive farming areas, so why the initiative against national parks and conservancies in lesser viable areas? The answer may not lie with land hunger, but rather with more sinister political objectives of individuals garnering for political influence and, of course, greater wealth. Zimbabweans well know this. It is a protraction of the ethos of reaping where one has not sewn which has saturated certain elements of society.

While the destruction of wildlife is a great tragedy for the nation, there is perhaps a greater catastrophe unfolding, apathy. Zimbabweans just do not seem to care or wish to react. As much as conservationists holler about the despicable fate of Zimbabwe’s marvellous national parks and conservancies, it is only the conservationists who seem to be hearing this. They have been crying out about the south eastern crisis for several months now, and everyone who may have a remote interest or some influence in political or executive circles is turning their head the other way.

Government ministers merely indicate they have not authorised land grabs in the conservancies, yet do not react. Directors of National Parks seem hamstrung and unable to enter the fray, the police re-act slowly and ineffectively, and non-governmental organisations are powerless, while all these little empires emerge in the name of what is really an injudicious revolution. Worse still, fully appraised opposition politicians seem ludicrously meek in the face of it all.

Zimbabwe’s national heritage is at stake here. Few Zimbabweans would remain modest in the face of say the Great Zimbabwe monument being pillaged for its wonderful stone, so what is the difference? Has ‘the party’ lost control of its minions to the extent that Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage should suffer in an unscrupulous wave of gluttony and devastation, seeing the demise of ethical conservation… is this what Zimbabweans want?

This is all absurdly myopic. It is a gloomy failure by Zimbabweans to protect their wildlife. It is surely time to deploy a real police force or army urgently alongside National Parks to redefine the boundaries and protect what is left. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is seriously at stake. Mozambicans and South Africans will hardly wish to see their wildlife being ushered across baron land to the slaughter on the altar of petty power hungry politics. It is all quite shameful.

Visit Andrew’s Simply Wild Photography photo blog… you will not regret doing so!