Posts Tagged With: economy

What are 8 billion tourists worth?

Money talks. It’s the basis for corruption and the decimation of wildlife. BUT it’s also paramount to protecting our animals and their wilderness.

YOUR tourism dollars and YOUR choice on spending them can make a difference.

eco-tourism-cartoon

In 2015 PLOS Biology did a global study to try to calculate the value of ecotourism. They estimated that protected nature areas attract 8 billion visits per year. (That’s more than 1 visit per person on earth.)

Researchers then calculated how much 8 billion visits are worth and came up with $600 billion per year.

In Africa alone, it is estimated by 2030 some countries will see 134 million tourists. –United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Tourism stabilizes communities by providing jobs, protects the wildlife by making them the focus of these jobs, and of course provides an opportunity of a lifetime to the tourist.

hyena-ffr

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixed Messages are killing our elephants and rhinos

To crush or hoard?

That is the dilemma for African countries with ivory stockpiles. It’s a polarizing debate. Destruction eliminates any and all possibility at corruption, it will not find its way back on the market and it sends a clear message ivory NOT attached to the animal has no value.

But the other side believes saving and selling the ivory allows the money to be rolled back over into conservation efforts for the animals, and the communities.

The problem is that elephants and rhinos exist throughout the African continent, making the “product” available in multiple countries, and each country has its own stance on stockpiling. So while Mozambique destroys ivory, directly across the border in Zimbabwe the country stores it, awaiting an opportunity to sell. This creates mixed messages and a lack of unity.

horns and tusks by reuters

Seized horns and tusks on display in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Selling Ivory Funds Communities

Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have a stock and sell take on ivory.

Namibia  Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said destroying the ivory and horn goes against government policy. Instead the stock is auctioned off to other interested countries.

“We will get a lot of money and the proceeds will go to state coffers to alleviate poverty. Also, we feel it is not an effective deterrent in fighting poaching,” said Shifeta.

While Botswana states it is “out of the question” to sell rhino horn, they’ve just announced they will seek permission to sell their ivory stockpile after the 10 years moratorium with CITES has expired in 2018.

Good news for the rhinos, considering the fact that Botswana is key to future rhino populations with the current translocations taking place from Kruger National Park.  Not so great for elephants.

Overall,  an interesting proposition considering the country’s strong stance on anti-poaching, and the large stake in their wildlife. 90% of tourists in Botswana come for the wildlife.

bots tourism

The wildlife tourism industry is estimated to continue to grow throughout the coming years, making it an invaluable component to the economy. Graph: World Travel & Tourism Council

 

 Destroy Ivory, Stop Poaching

Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Ethiopia have all held public burns/crushes to destroy their stockpiles of horn and ivory.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto says the illegal ivory has no economic value to them, saying that “the selling is what has brought us to the state of poaching that we are in.”

kenya ivory burn bbc

Kenya burned 15 tonnes of ivory in March. President Kenyatta has vowed the entire stockpile will be burned this year. AFP photo

One-off Sales

So the hoard and sell leads to occasional one-off sales of a set amount for a limited time.

It is the belief of some that by CITES issuing these sales of horn or ivory, it fans the flames and results in a poaching spike, sending elephant and rhino populations into a tailspin. Afterall how can we  allow LEGAL one-off sales of a product AND simultaneously strive at reducing demand for the same product? Confusing to say the least.

The experts who work with elephants are in agreement.

cynthia moss 1It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we’re losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory–legal or not–is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.

– Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Elephant Research Project

ian redmond 2As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range – not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units. 

Ian Redmond, OBE Wildlife biologist and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

So who do we listen to? The experts who work with these creatures, seeing their lives and deaths and the daily effects of poaching? Or political officials with a mixed bag of agendas?

If we must view elephants, rhinos or other animal in economic terms, then we must factor in tourism. Without wildlife, there is no tourism. Period.

To read more about the fight to ban ivory and save elephants: Born Free Foundation 

DSCF3137

Elephant herd on a dusty day in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Tisha Wardlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rape and Pillage of Africa’s Wildlife

The Chinese are welcomed into parts of Africa with increasing regularity to “work” and “aid” Africans with economic gains. With the intent of modernizing infrastructures (roads and railways), or to mine minerals or to offer government incentives, they have become integrated into at least 24 countries across the dark continent over the last five years.

chinese investment in africa 2010

A delicate and controversial marriage to say the least, as they seemingly covet Africa’s jobs, land and minerals.

One thing that cannot be denied is the boldness with which they have exploited Africa’s wildlife. According to Born Free USA,  “Chinese illicit ivory traffickers in particular have been arrested across nearly every single African range state, and operate at nearly every point along the ivory supply chain.”

Tanzania – In a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, interviews with poachers claim they have sold ivory to members of the Chinese Embassy. It also links a surge in the Tanzanian ivory market during an official visit from a Chinese naval task force and even claims that members of President Xi Jinping’s entourage smuggled ivory out of Tanzania on the presidential plane during his visit in March 2013.

 Republic of Congo – Asian migrant laborers are involved in the logging industry here (70-75% of which is illegal), and are in direct contact with elephants and other area wildlife. It has been suspected their presence has been responsible for increased poaching.

congolese worker watched by chinese foreman

Congolese worker being watched by Chinese foreman. photo: Saturday’s Daily Telegraph

Mathieu Eckel, head of the APU in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo has been watching activity of the Chinese construction camps in the area. He said “We’ve had many stories that involve local poachers and Chinese, but to get the Chinese you have to find them with the ivory”.

In previous attempts where workers in the area had been caught red-handed, corruption or incompetence of Congolese Prosecution has led to no charges being filed. (CNN Report)

Gabon – After seeing elephant skins hanging outside a construction camp, rangers raided the camp and seized carved chopsticks, horns sheared from a Bongo antelope, the scales of a pangolin, a quantity of unworked ivory, and breakfast: several servings of roasted elephant trunk.

Lee White, the head of Gabon National Parks said, “The suspicion is they were hiding the finished pieces (of ivory) in timber containers which were being shipped to China.”

Zimbabwe – Perhaps one of the most controversial and heartbreaking moves comes from the government allowing China to come into the National Park and remove elephants for their zoos, many of them have been infants ripped from their mothers. Zimbabwe’s defense- the sale of the elephants is needed to raise funds for conservation efforts. 

Zimbabwe elephant herd

A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole in Hwange national Park in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Zdenek Maly/Alamy

Rhinos of course have also been a target. John Pameri, head of security and chief ranger at the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya believes the recent influx of Chinese construction workers into Kenya has helped to renew awareness among locals and crime networks that rhino horns can be sold for thousands of pounds on the black market.

“Our local intelligence suggests some of the poachers come from Somalia, but the demand is from the Chinese workers,” Pameri stated.

lewa rhino

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the two main rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. Luckily in 2014, with high security, they managed to evade any poaching incidents. photo: Lewa Conservancy

The Kenya Wildlife Service has also noted a correlation between the influx of Chinese labour and poaching, and has blamed the crisis on the increasing number of Chinese nationals living in Kenya. (There are currently between 3000-10000 Chinese living in Kenya).

Other victims found at these construction sites include giraffes, pythons, leopards and even local dogs being poached and consumed by the workers. In Zimbabwe authorities found 40 rare tortoises at a worker’s home, most of which were merely skeletal remains left after consumption.

But the culprits are not just in the construction sector, Chinese merchants often sell cheap trinkets and clothing in small shops throughout Africa, but the real money is in their back door business of wildlife trade. One such area revealed in an investigation by Hongxiang Huang and Oxpeckers exposed Katima, Namibia as a central hub of trading between trans-border African smugglers and Chinese shop keepers and traders.

Many of these shop owners are linked to the ivory trade in the guise of buying and selling of ivory souvenirs and artifacts for export and sale to tourists, which is perceived to be legal.

South Africa is seeing the largest flux of Chinese migrants. Wildlife trafficking syndicates here continue to brazenly sell rhino horn and ivory at the Chinese markets in SA’s own capital cities, even in the face of global attempts to crack down on the illicit trade in endangered species.

The Chinese have a poor track record when it comes to wildlife conservation, but African countries must accept responsibility for protecting their own wildlife. The price of losing the land and animals is too great to pay for any economic gain.

elephant coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Got 99 Problems but the Rhino Ain’t One

beautifulafricawildanimalspets.com rhinos

As rhino activists hell-bent on their survival, it’s difficult to understand that out of all countries on the Earth, why South Africa isn’t more involved in their salvation? The majority of all rhinos survive there, so it would seem logical for them to be more proactive.

But, looking more closely at the country and government itself, they are plagued with pressing issues.

HIV/AIDS

As with many African countries AIDS is a perpetual concern. The SA HIV/AIDS rate is at 17.8% (one of the highest in the world) 2 million South Africans have been killed by it.

aids sa graph 2014

                                                           

Education

The country has a two-tiered education system. There seem to be few good schools; and those are fiercely competitive and expensive, assuring only the wealthier children a good education.

In 2013 although 78% of public school students passed their final, 31% had grades good enough to qualify for universities. The rest are faced with an uncertain future as unemployment runs high.

Unemployment

The current rate of joblessness stands at 24%. Youth unemployment (under 25) stands at a staggering 65%!

A decade ago, a person with a high school degree had a 50 percent chance of getting a job. Today, that figure is 30 percent. According to South Africa’s Labour Force Survey, for the last quarter of 2013, two-thirds of all unemployed South Africans were under the age of 35.

SA unemployment

SA’s unemployed look for jobs.

Poverty

From the crisis of unemployment and education, poverty is born. The division between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world. Although SA is not as stricken as many African countries, 4 million people are living at or below the poverty line.

Crime

The cities of Maseru and Cape Town have the distinction of being on the 10 cities with the highest murder rates list.

The overall murder rate in the nation is 31.9 per 100,000 people, 30 times that of Great Britain. For police it’s 51 out of 100,000. For farmers, who are overwhelmingly white, the rate soars to 99 out 100,000.

And that is part of another issue-the racial divide. The attacks on South African farmers make it twice as dangerous to be a farmer than a police officer. While the government has argued that there is no evidence of organised attacks, white farmers believe these attacks are evidence of a campaign to drive them off their land.

Zuma/Political Corruption

The extent of all of these economic and human issues, as with any country, is controlled by its leadership. There is no Mandela in South Africa. There is only Jacob Zuma.

zuma and wife in dc

Zuma with one of his wives in front of the White House for the US Africa Leaders Summit.

Zuma is a president who seemingly spends more time and money on his own interests and family than on the people of the country. Suspicions are he has spent tax payer money on his private home improvements and additions, totalling approximately $23 million dollars.

He has fanned the flames of racial division, and has had charges of corruption, fraud, rape and unethical conduct brought against him. They all seem to eventually get dropped. Yet the level of distrust remains.  Is it any wonder with a man whose middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “the one who laughs while he endangers you”?

Zuma recently told a US audience that Israel and Palestine should take advice from South Africa about resolving their violent conflict. Although at rally parties he sings and dances to his signature song, “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami,” or “Bring Me My Machine Gun.”

And in the middle of it all-THIS is where our rhino resides.

sabi sabi rhino

Although there is always hope for change, let’s face it- our rhino is NOT the priority to the SA government. It is not something South Africa can tackle on it’s own. It will take a global effort to fight and win this war.

Petition: President Zuma & Minister Molewa-Stop all hunting of Kruger Nat Parks Big Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If Rhinos Go Extinct

To every thing there is a yin and yang, a balance. The web of all species is intricately connected, each relies on the others.

When we let a species go extinct, we upset the balance. So if we fail the rhino, what will happen to the rest of the savanna?

Rhinos are mega-herbivores, the lawn maintenance crew of the savanna. Their job to the ecosystem is to carve out paths for other creatures (eating), make water holes (digging), and to help germinate plants (defecating).

rhinos eating grass

It may seem simplistic, but they are the only sizable creatures in this habitat to do it. The other mega-herbivores, elephants affect different parts of the savanna, as they eat from a different menu, browsing on taller bushes and trees.

Rhinos eat an average of 23.6 kg during the course of each day. The dung piles they share can be 5 metres wide and 1 metre deep. That’s a sizable amount of trimming and fertilizing!

Research (by Scandinavian and South African researchers in the Journal of Ecology) indicates areas with higher rhino population had 20 times more grazing areas. These areas supply food not just for rhinos, but for zebra, gazelle and antelope.

No rhinos = less grazable area = less herbivores (i.e. antelope) = less predators (i.e. lions)

If we fail the rhino, what will happen to the people?

Eco-tourism relies heavily on tourists wanting to see the Big 5: the lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, and leopard.

kenya tourism

 

Obviously without the rhino, it’s down to 4. But if the savanna suffers without grazable area, ultimately so do the lion and leopard, since their lunch will be terribly diminished by the lack of herbivores.

So will people pay to come see a barren landscape with a few scattered elephant and buffalo?

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates 3.8 million jobs could be created by the tourism industry in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next 10 years. They go on to say that eco-tourism can only be sustainable IF the natural assets are protected from degradation.

Tour operators, tour drivers, cooks, housekeepers, souvenir vendors, wait staff, hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurants, store employees…they could all be out of a job without tourism.

No rhino = no big five = no tourists = no tourism jobs = poorer economy

                                                  ________________________________

If we fail the rhino, we let terrorists, politicians, poachers, trophy-hunters, and most of all apathy win;  making it that much harder for the next endangered species. If we fail the rhino, we ultimately fail ourselves.

rhino reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

50 million years on Earth….Disappearing in 6?!

If the current rate of poaching continues, rhinos in the wild will be extinct by 2020. That is just 6 years away!

black and white rhinos by ryan hillier

There are only 5,000 black rhinos (L) and 20,000 white rhinos (R) remaining in the wild. (photo by Ryan Hillier)

According to Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation,

“There will probably be no free-living rhinos as the remaining numbers will be fenced off in military-style compounds which are alarmed and heavily guarded by armed patrols.”

Are we prepared to let this happen? How will the world look without them?

The Savanna 

Rhinos are an umbrella species. This means their survival or demise directly impacts the survival or demise of other species of rhino in tall grass by chiu pangmammals, birds, insects, fish and plants. They play a big role in their ecosystem.

When they browse, they keep the areas trimmed, making paths and more accessible areas for smaller mammals. They also enrich the soil and help plants by spreading seed through their dung.

In fact according to an article in Smithsonian.com, rhino-inhabited areas had about 20 times more grazing lawns (or patches of prime eating grass) than areas without rhinos. This effects not just rhino’s diet, but smaller grazing animals such as zebra, gazelle, and antelope.

Without rhinos to diversify the plant life and help create grazing spots, the African savanna may become a much emptier place, devastating more than just the rhinos.

The Economy

Many parts of Africa rely heavily on the tourism business. Probably the biggest incentive for safaris is the “Big Five” (the elephant, rhino, lion, cape buffalo and leopard) With four of the five endangered or on their way to endangered status, tourism is absolutely threatened.

Without rhinos, there is no tourism and no tour guides, drivers, lodge employees, restaurant employees, or souvenir shop employees. South Africa and Kenya are arguably two of the biggest benefactors of tourism via safaris. With existing unemployment rates of 24% (SA) and 40% (K), there is no room for lessening job opportunities.

rhino safari (africa excl safari)

photo by africa exclusive safari

Global Responsibility

It may be cliché, but it is absolute truth-we have one planet. We are guardians of this planet; the only ones who are capable of devastating and destroying it, and likewise the only ones who can right this.

Rhinos are one of the 16,306 endangered species in the world. They have all come to this point from the recklessness of humans through habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. This can be brought to a halt through education and awareness, and stricter laws for violators.

BUT we must ask ourselves-do we REALLY want to save the planet? Do we have the will to work together-ignoring borders, setting aside self-importance and ultimately having respect, not just for each other, but for ALL  species? If enough of us can do this, we don’t have to wonder what will happen without rhinos. And we may just find our own dignity and humanity along the way.

help me

 

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South Africa Tourism: A Catch 22

international rhinoOf the world’s most popular travel destinations, South Africa ranked #21. Tourism supports 1 out of every 12 jobs in South Africa,  in total contributing 9% to the total GDP (gross domestic product).

Among the top ten travel hot spots within the country, half are eco-tourism destinations, including the #1 ranked Kruger National Park.

Understandably, the government aims to increase its tourism industry,  in turn fueling the economy.

According to the S.A. tourism director, Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela, “Going forward, we would like to contribute half a trillion rand into South Africa’s economy and create 225,000 jobs (in tourism) by 2020.”

With that being said, “Why doesn’t the government take a stronger stand on poaching and conservation?”

Canned Hunts

The cover page on the South Africa tourism site shows “The Big Five” under the photo of a lion.  Ironic considering that although lions are listed as threatened,  SA is home to  the shameful atrocity of canned hunts. (see: Shooting Fish in a Barrel)

There are now officially more lions in captivity than in the wild. From 2006 to 2011, canned hunts of lions increased by a whopping 122%, with no signs of slowing. In the last 6 years, the number of farm lions has grown by 250%.

Is anything being done to stop this? It would appear not.  In 2010 the South African Supreme Court struck down a law which would have restricted the practice.

bachmanIf the recent outcry of protests against Melissa Bachman (the US hunter shown in a photo with a dead lion after her hunt) is any indication, the majority clearly do not favor or support this practice.

Poaching

With South Africa being home to 83% of the world’s remaining rhinos, the country is holding all the cards when it comes to saving the rhino from extinction. There has been an escalation in poaching over recent years to the toll of 2-3 rhino being killed per day.

rhino poaching stats 2013

In 2013, although there have been 310 arrests,  how many are actually convicted? The justice system seems inadequate in handing down speedy or consistent sentences. Those who are sentenced, are often released with a minimal fine, only to go out and poach again.

Granted, poaching is a multi-faceted issue which needs to be combated through combined routes of education, economy, and the justice system. But time is not on the rhinos side.

With the lack of action, and decrease of wildlife, some in the tourism industry are fearful of negative repercussions.

Chris Roche of Wilderness Safaris said “Tourist boycotts are harmful and have adverse effects contrary to their intentions,” says Roche. “We would not advocate any real consideration of this as a mechanism in exerting influence on governments. Rather, we believe that the opposite is a far more meaningful action; that tourists actually travelling to locations where poaching, especially of ivory and rhino, is prevalent is the best possible contribution.”

While that is true, it is a catch 22.  No one will pay for wildlife safaris to see grass and trees. Tourism is the jewel of South Africa’s economy. If the tourism industry is to survive, then so must the rhinos, elephants, and lions.

A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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