Language version

Environment

Coronavirus In Africa Could Reverse 30 Years Of Wildlife Conservation Gains, Harming Interconnected Communities And Livelihoods

Advertisement

Published

on

For wild animals in Africa on the verge of extinction and the tight knit communities who protect them, COVID-19 is a specter, disrupting a delicate balancing act of survival for both humans and endangered species. African officials and conservation experts from Kenya, Uganda and Gabon briefed members of Congress on May 12 about the growing impact of Coronavirus on protected wildlife areas.

Their overarching message: new policies must take into account both national security concerns, and sustaining livelihood in communities hardest hit by the lockdown measures.

Unless African governments can maintain strong networks of community conservation areas, supporting thousands of jobs dedicated to wildlife conservation, protected wildlife areas face a difficult road to recovery.

The fear is that Coronavirus in Africa could reverse 30 years of conservation gains, including communal conservancy programs in multiple countries.

Traditional funding and economic development in these areas will not bounce back into place overnight. We don’t yet know the lasting impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s tourism industry.

Early data show the fractures in the system, but the full effect of travel bans, border closures and vacation cancelations on protected areas and the local communities co-existing with wild lands is just starting to sink in across the African continent.

The large revenue streams that supported livelihood and a stable economy were abruptly cut off in late March. No job in these areas was left unscathed.

In Namibia, 86 conservancies stand to lose nearly $11M in income from tourism operations and salaries to tourism staff living in conservancies.

This means that 700 community game guards and rhino rangers, 300 conservancy support staff, and 1,175 locally-hired tourism staff members are at high risk of losing their jobs.

In larger countries, the stakes are higher. In Kenya, for example, conservancies are poised to lose $120M in annual income with unfathomable consequences.

On top of losses from the tourism sector, well-intended lockdown measures in densely populated cities are exacerbating the situation in smaller rural communities.

An estimated 350 million people in Africa work in what’s known as informal employment. Social distancing and unemployment across this large segment has influenced many city-dwellers to move back to their home towns.

But with rural communities also experiencing high unemployment and severe wage cuts, people returning home will have few options available for subsistence, which raises the possibility of being lured into illegal activities such as poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Growing strains on local economies have led to concerns about food security. According to the World Economic Forum, lockdown measures have disrupted internal supply chains, halting food production.

To make matters worse, huge swarms of desert locust are devastating crops in Eastern Africa, and parts of Southern Africa recovering from recent severe drought and floods – all of which makes the continent more dependent on food that is externally sourced.

The comparatively smaller number of cases in African countries is no reason to discount the abrupt economic reversals in community conservation areas. The spread of COVID-19 is still on the rise and will continue to have broad-based impact on protected areas.

There are reported outbreaks in every African country. At the time of this writing, there were 184,333 officially infected with 5,071 deaths, according to Africa CDC.

South Africa has reported 48,285 confirmed cases – an increase of more than 20 percent over the past week. Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, is struggling to respond to both the spread of COVID-19 and to the dramatic drop in oil prices, which has crippled its economy.

The World Health Organization has warned that hot spots in Africa could experience a second wave of Covid-19 as lockdown orders are lifted in June, and that appears to already be occurring in the Western Cape.

South Africa has its largest daily increase in reported infections on June 4, with 3,267 new cases. The World Bank has estimated that as many as 60 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by the end of 2020.

If the situation continues to deteriorate, more vulnerable communities will turn to wildlife as a source of food. Such a scenario of unrestrained consumption of bush meat raises the risk of pathogen transfer from wildlife to humans.

As the US and other countries pivot to help Africa, stimulus packages must be designed to include support for communities on the frontlines of wildlife conservation.

If we don’t act to channel aid and investment for job creation to African communities most in need, we run the risk of reversing 30 years of gains in changing behaviors toward wildlife.

African Wildlife Foundation and organizations working on the front lines and monitoring developments, have flagged sustaining land leases and providing opportunities for livelihood as critical stop gaps during and in the immediate aftermath of lockdowns.

Emergency support throughout the apex of the disease event will ensure conservation is secure for Africa’s people, economy and environment.

The US Government is no stranger to community-based conservation in Africa. It has been supporting these efforts for decades, helping to ensure that local communities benefit from wildlife conservation, which in turn incentivizes conservation efforts and helps combat threats to wildlife. This model needs a lifeline now more than ever.

COVID-19 shines a light on the fragility of wildlife conservation in Africa. With limited funding for most state-run nature agencies, there has been an over-reliance on tourism to support efforts.

In the wake of the pandemic – after immediate needs are addressed – Africa has a chance to show the world how to develop a regenerative economy.

We must strive to strengthen and mainstream wildlife conservation into all sectors of the African economy in response to the pandemic to prevent future outbreaks

Countries facing limitations and resource constraints during lockdowns will be reopening economies soon, and rethinking development pathways as they do.

The community development agenda in Africa agenda stands to benefit if nature is front and center, and whatever we put into these efforts now will lessen the risk of another global pandemic happening in the future.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Environment

DRC’s Conservation Chief Resigns From ICCN

Published

on

Reports reaching Taarifa confirm that Cosma Wilungula, Director General of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) temporarily suspended by his supervisory authority, has just resigned from his post.

In a correspondence which he addressed respectively to the President and to the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Wilungula said his decision to resign was triggered by an unhealthy climate which has developed between him and his supervisers saying makes it impossible for him to serve his country.

“I note that by this unhealthy climate which is developing between this ministerial authority towards myself, I can no longer continue to serve my country in this post for the time being. That’s why, I personally judged to present my resignation to you as CEO of ICCN ”, he explained his decision.

Wilungula also returned to the accusations against him which earned him the preventive suspension.

“The serious breaches of regulatory duties and mismanagement are in no way justified because, in fact, during my mandate I have never been the subject of disciplinary action, let alone any disciplinary sanction whatsoever”, he noted.

In his letter of resignation, the director general still praises his sixteen years of management of this public establishment.

“I left the ICCN at the level where, despite sporadic state subsidies, but with the tireless support of partners, under my aegis, we achieved several records that there is no need for everything indicate here, but including the most recent for illustration, the electrification of a large part of the province of North Kivu, by the creation of four hydroelectric power stations and the removal of the Salonga National Park from the world heritage list in danger,” he said.

A few days ago, Eve Bazaiba, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, set up a joint commission to rule on the case of Cosma Wilungula, and later suspended him.

Continue Reading

Environment

Ecological Governance Boosts Fight Against Climate Change

Published

on

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I report, “Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis”, which was released on Aug 9, is the most authoritative study on climate change, and will help improve global environmental governance and prompt countries to negotiate climate treaties.

The IPCC report is expected to be high on the agenda of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in October-November.

Compared with the previous IPCC reports, the latest one emphasises that many of the impacts of human activities on climate change are irreversible, indicating that the global fight against climate change needs to be strengthened to prevent further damage to the environment.

Natural disasters and extreme weather events such as cyclones, unusually heavy downpours, record high temperatures and uncontrollable forest fires have become more frequent in recent years due to climate change.

To combat climate change, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Fiji and other economies have enacted climate change policies and set specific carbon emission targets.

On Sept 22, 2020, while addressing the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said China will increase its nationally determined contributions (which according to the Paris Agreement embody a country’s efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to climate change), and take measures to ensure its carbon emissions peak before 2030 and realise carbon neutrality before 2060.

Compared with other countries, China’s intervening period between peak emissions and carbon neutrality is shorter. So China has to make arduous efforts to achieve the two goals.

China has included the two goals into national development plans and policy documents, such as the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035; the Guiding Opinions on the Coordination and Strengthening of the Work related to Climate Change and Ecological Environment Protection; and the Notice on Implementing Pilot Environmental Impact Assessment of Carbon Emission of Construction Projects in Key Industries issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Also, some provinces have worked out road maps and action plans for reducing emissions. For example, Zhejiang province has devised a peak carbon neutralisation scientific and technological innovation action plan, Hebei province has worked out a plan called “Measures for Coordinating and Strengthening Work Related to Climate Change and Ecological Environment Protection”, and Chongqing municipality has made carbon emissions a part of the environmental impact evaluation and included it in the criteria to grant pollution discharge permits.

China’s national carbon emissions trading system, which officially started operations on July 16, has the potential to play a key role in achieving China’s long-term climate goals-of peaking emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

Under the guidance of the government, Chinese companies are making greater efforts to reduce emissions, with many companies in the energy generating and household appliance manufacturing sectors working out their road maps to achieve their respective targets of carbon neutrality.

And many retail companies and other organisations have introduced incentive plans to motivate consumers to buy energy-saving and low-carbon products to boost green consumption and encourage a low-carbon lifestyle.

All this in order to help the country achieve its climate targets as soon as possible.

To achieve “net-zero emissions”, however, China will need to undergo a profound economic and social transformation. And to choose the right path to carbon neutrality, China should reform key industries such as energy, transportation and construction, modify the production and consumption structure, and upgrade the technological standards.

As for specific measures, the role of the economy and the rule of law should be given full play by, for instance, improving laws, standard systems and government supervision, strengthening the market mechanisms including the green certificates and carbon emissions trading systems, and increasing publicity and education.

To better tackle climate change, we need the joint efforts of governments, NGOs, businesses, and people around the world. However, due to their different interests, political systems and technology development levels, many countries have not taken adequate, effective measures to combat climate change.

As Inger Anderson, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said at a news conference on Aug 9, only 110 of the 191 signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have submitted new or updated nationally determined contributions ahead of the Glasgow climate conference.

In addition, exchanges and cooperation among countries in terms of funding, technology and human resources related to climate change also need to be strengthened to boost the global fight against climate change.

 

Yue Xiaohua is an associate professor at the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Continue Reading

Environment

Kenya’s Snake-Eagle Fight Ends Bitterly

Published

on

In Kenya, a fight involving a snake and an eagle has ended bitterly with a government employee injured and fighting for his dear life.

According to a local publication The citizen, a struggle involving an eagle and a snake that eventually landed on the car of a Kitui County government employee minding his own business has left many tongues wagging.

David Musyoka, a driver attached to the county government said that he was driving towards Mwingi town when a snake freed itself from the talons of an eagle and dropped on top of his car.

According to Musyoka, before he could do anything, the snake found its way inside the car and bit his left arm.

He immediately stopped the car and jumped out with the snake still hanging onto his arm and called for help.

Nearby residents of Kwa Mbungu market rushed to his rescue and killed the snake then gave him first aid.

However, in a shocking turn of events, the residents said the eagle emerged out of nowhere again and picked the dead snake right back up and flew away with it.

The management of Mwingi Level IV Hospital, where Musyoka was admitted, has since said the snake bite has been fully treated and the patient is recuperating well.

Continue Reading

Trending

Share
Share via