Killing African Animals May Help Conserve Them

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From the Economist:

While Kenya has a number of nature reserves, most of its wildlife lives on privately owned land, and killing or exporting such animals has been banned since 1977. Before that, landowners might have made money through ranching, hunting, tanning, taxidermy, curios and allowing animals on their land to be captured for sale or export. Mr Norton-Griffiths and Mohammed Said of the International Livestock Research Institute estimate that today the industry might be worth some $600m annually.

At present, however, landowners make around $5 per hectare per year from their wildlife—comparable to agricultural returns on only the driest, most marginal land. Where landowners rent an area for wildlife-viewing to a single tour company, they may average $10 per hectare. In the Mara area—which draws much of Kenya’s safari trade—rents can rise to $50 per hectare. However, in 95% of the land where wildlife is found, it nets landowners no money at all.

…despite millions spent to conserve Kenya’s wildlife, stock has declined by 70% since 1977. More than half of the most productive rangelands in Kenya, which used to hold most of the country’s wildlife, have been converted to agricultural production.

The best way of conserving wildlife is to make it worth landlords’ while. Tourism can help up to a point. But most tourists will not travel more than a few hours from their hotel to see animals. Real wildlife tends to flourish far from people, hotels, roads and swimming pools: large-scale tourism and real wildlife are not compatible. New thinking about how to support wildlife conservation is needed in Kenya.

Rich-country conservationists need to be less squeamish about killing animals. They ought to support developing countries’ efforts to create incentives for their landowners to protect wildlife—even if it means sometimes shedding animals’ blood.

Green.view | Point and shoot | Economist.com

 
 
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