National parks-only approaches will fail African Wildlife
Thursday 12 January 2006
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is calling for an urgent new solution to protect African wildlife and other global rangelands, in addition to the traditional approach of setting up “fortress” nature reserves - a source of continued conflict with local people.
Speaking at an international rangelands symposium, hosted jointly by ZSL and the Wildlife Conservation Society, ZSL said that the pressure on land in Africa today from population growth, agriculture, urbanisation, disease, bushmeat and increasing water shortage have created an atmosphere of anger over the rights to use land and resources.
The crisis is so great that even gunship helicopter patrols around nature reserves are not enough to protect wildlife and only a radical new approach will work.
Wildlife populations have seen declines of over 50% in Africa and Asia in the last 15 years. Famous National Parks across the continents like Tsavo, in Kenya and Boma in Sudan are severely depleted. Local extinctions are becoming common and even species like lion are under threat. As pressure on land grows, the long term prognosis is poor.
The solution ZSL claims, is a cooperative approach to land management with a protected area system maintained, but with shared access to, and responsibility for, resources. This new approach works by building alliances between old enemies such as hunters, livestock keepers and conservationists to confront the exploitation of rangelands by often more remote communities.
Richard Kock, Programme Manager for the Deserts and Rangelands Conservation Programme, ZSL said: “This may seem radical or idealistic but existing pilot scemes such as in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya are living examples that it can work, this is the only area in that highly biodiverse country showing wildlife population recovery. And as we continue to see massive declines in once common species such as buffalo and lion, even within nature reserves, it is time for a radical overhaul of rangeland conservation.”
He added, the two day international conference, co-hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, will bring together a multi-disciplinary group of experts including rangeland, conservation, social, veterinary and other scientists from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, India, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, America and South Africa.
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Notes to editors
The international rangelands symposium ‘Wild Rangelands: Conservation in the world’s grazing ecosystems’ takes place 12-13th January at the Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in worldwide field conservation efforts
Claire Hodgkinson - 020 7449 6288