The battle to save Africa’s most threatened wildlife species
The battle to save Africa’s most threatened wildlife species even as the continent develops, is the view put forward here by CEO of African Wildlife Foundation, Kaddu Sebunya
Africa is endowed with many wildlife species that occur in its various biomes and habitats. This rich diversity is Africa’s heritage; the very substrate that will drive the continent’s sustainable development. How Africa chooses to treat its natural environment (therefore, its people), will determine its development at all levels – local, national and continental.
Africa is already developing rapidly, boasting of megabucks infrastructure projects and some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The continent does not need to make a choice between conservation and development; the decision it needs to make is how to conserve natural resources and develop sustainably without taking away from the rights of future generations to enjoy wildlife in its natural habitat.
As CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), I believe that the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will thrive in modern Africa. My optimism is backed by reality on the ground. First, we have to acknowledge the problem; over the last 60 years all but a few of Africa’s wildlife species have been steadily declining, and some have become extinct. But Africa is not alone in losing species. On a global scale, humanity is reported to have wiped out 60% of animal populations since the 1970s with huge costs even as the world feeds its burgeoning human population.
In the 1960s, most African countries earned their political independence and with it the custodianship over natural resources including wildlife. The results have been a mixed bag. Africa currently has an estimated 5,000 black rhino of the 65,000 in the 1960s, 415,000 of 1.2 million elephants and 20,000 of 200,000 lions. Even Africa’s tallest animal, the giraffe, has not been spared.