Wednesday, May 11, 2016
If You've Ever Wondered What People are Doing to Help Nearly Extinct Animals...
Africa has spent it's share of time in the news. We've heard about the civil wars, the blood diamonds, the despotic leaders, the genocides, the pirates, the famine, the attacks on United States citizens and soldiers, and so much more. It sometimes seems that the human overshadows the wilder animals of Africa when it comes to the news. That being said, we've all heard about poachers, and how they are decimating the populations of nearly extinct animals all over the world, with Africa being the hardest hit. Have you ever wondered what the good people of Africa are doing to make things better for animals such as elephants, rhinoceros, and gorilla?
I mentioned recently how much Rwanda is doing to help the Mountain Gorillas. But, I wanted to see what was going on elsewhere? Face it, most of the endangered animals that are hunted are hunted in Africa. The more interesting question is why? Well, it's all about the money. When you live in an area that has the animals that are sought after for their sense of prestige or some fertility ritual, the animals are right there. Ivory and rhino horns are greatly sought after in Asian countries, and the locals in Africa are close by where they live. We've all known that the economy in most African countries is questionable at best with over population and corrupt governments being a problem in many areas. So, with all that going on, what can a country do to help protect these majestic creatures from being hunted into extinction?
Several countries have been trying several methods to combat the poaching. Some countries, like Namibia, have tried controlled hunting so that the remaining animals have a better chance to repopulate. That has been heavily criticized in the media in this country and has left these countries on a public hotplate. My suggestion is not to be too hard on them. If you do not know better, you should presume that they know what they are doing. I just wanted to throw that out there, because both the government and the hunters have had enough for doing what they thought was best.
But, I digress. It wasn't my intention to put down the good people who believe that the only way to save is to go with strictly no kill. My intention was to talk about Botswana. Botswana's current government may just be the most animal conscious in the world. You can't hunt in Botswana. You don't want to, because it's illegal (even though they still hunt on private property in a grey legal zone), and the punishments are great.
Moremi Game Preserve, nearby Chobe National Park, and all of the Okavango Delta are hunting free zones. These areas are full of eco lodges, safari lodges, and tour organizations. You can go to the local villages and meet the people, and raft the river if you like. You can do pretty much anything there but hunt.
The Okavango is the largest river delta in the world, and it is full of hundreds of species of animals and birds. The big five are alive and well here. All the cats are present; leopards, lions, panthers, cheetahs. Elephants and both black and white rhinoceros live in the park. Hippos, hyenas, and many kinds of antelope are everywhere along with monkeys, alligators, and wildebeests. This is the best time to come and see all the wildlife. The government in power right now has outlawed hunting, which just makes viewing so much easier.
With three national parks and seven game reserves, over %39 of the country is dedicated to the animals. And, if that idea of shooting an elephant lures you, remember that it will cost you 10 years in prison and $6,000 in fines. You think maybe you'll take out a Rhino instead? That will land you in prison for 15 years and cost you $12,000 in fines. They are not messing around.
What about lions and cheetahs, and leopards? They will cost you too. The government of Botswana has taken a lot of their poachers and made them into rangers that look for poachers. They've taken both a legal and financial step to stop the madness. It's working. The poaching statistics are way down lately and continue to drop. That's good news for the animals. It's good news for the tourists too. With less running for their life to do, the less shy the animals are and the more likely we are to see them while on safari.
It's a lot of land to look over, and the world is looking to them the help because of their success. Rhinoceros and other endangered species are being transported to the Okavango Delta from other areas by non profit organizations in order to help them survive. It's working. Rhinoceros numbers have doubled recently. Elephant numbers are up as well. The news is good.
What can you do to help? There are several organizations that can be found on the Botswana government website that you can donate to. They are good people doing good work all over Africa and some in India as well. But in all honesty, the best thing you can do is visit. Come and take a safari in a world where it officially does not mean a hunting trip anymore. The more traffic from visitors, the more money will go into the local economy. The more money, the less likely that people will poach for the cash. Money is the name of the game, and if we pump it in there, the people won't desire to get it from illegal gains.
Let them live. Beautiful majestic creatures deserve a chance. Come and take a look instead of a shot. Come and visit the most endangered species conscious country of this time. Come and enjoy the safe haven for all animals in a country that has outlawed taking their lives. Come and see the amazing animals of Botswana. Remember that this is the time to come. If the current government is voted out, it could all change. Take advantage now and enjoy!