How to Offset Terrorism’s Damage to Funding for Pachyderms

By Michael Schwartz

On the whole, tourism revenue is an optimal way of conserving Africa’s remaining elephant and rhino populations. But the current spike in global terrorist activities should serve as a sobering reminder that it can’t be relied on as a conservation panacea.

The recent uptick in global terrorism in all likelihood will deter some travelers from visiting the continent, just as the 2014 Ebola outbreak did in West Africa. This is especially true considering the international travel advisory for American citizens recently issued by the U.S. State Department.

Tragedies such as the Paris attacks and the downing of the Russian airliner in the Sinai Peninsula foment a climate of fear—giving organizations like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Islamic State opportunities to effectively promote their terror agenda.

An unfortunate repercussion is a loss of tourism revenue, which helps fund protected areas for wildlife and elephant and rhino conservation strategies.

The good news, however, is that there exists alternative methods that are, and should be, increasingly implemented as reliable measures for elephant and rhinoceros conservation.

Encouraging Local Stewardship

Elephants and rhinos are the African people’s heritage. But some protected areas, such as Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park remain largely bereft of local involvement, undermining sustainable management of the continent’s natural resources.

Historically, rural communities that had coexisted with wildlife in a relative state of balance viewed national parks created during the European colonial era with suspicion or even hostility.

Many NGOs are now redressing the old, fortress-style conservation methodology, an anachronistic concept that kept people and wildlife separate from one another, weakening local economies and failing to leverage traditional knowledge of best conservation practices.

One group in northern Tanzania that is changing the face of conservation is the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT). Its strategies include “building local capacity, codifying community —> Read More