Proposed animal protection law ignores the right of local communities to practice conservation approaches – Global issues

  • Idea by Lesle Jansen (Cape town, South Africa)
  • Joint press service

And judging from political developments in the former colonial power, Britain, these communities – wildlife custodians in several southern African countries – are rapidly fighting to ensure a future in which powers use their natural resources for their own benefit. firmly in their hands. The UK government intends to pass anti-hunting legislation including a ban on British hunters from bringing their trophies home. For African communities that rely on so-called trophy hunting as a primary source of income, such bans not only undermine their right to use and sustainably manage wildlife, including hunting. shot, for their benefit but also to threaten their livelihood.

And there is evidence, as is the case with Kenya, that they also harm conservation.

Based on report, the government no longer intends to introduce the Animals Abroad Bill in the current parliamentary session, citing a lack of time in parliament. Legislation is similarly planned limitations in the United States, aimed at sabotaging hunting tourism in Africa, also failed to materialize. There are also proposed legislation with a similar goal being worked on in Italy and Belgium.

The ban on the import of hunting trophies represents a contradiction between two different schools of thought on conservation. One is an approach supported by the policies of African governments and international conservation agencies, which promotes the sustainable use of natural resource practices by hundreds of communities in several regions. African country.

The other, which is becoming increasingly common in Western countries and urban areas, where humans no longer have a direct connection to the natural environment, consider animal rights and welfare paramount, even to the detriment of the rights and welfare of those responsible for the conservation of such wildlife.

While current legislative efforts in the UK, US and possibly Europe to limit so-called trophy hunting in Africa may reflect current Western conceptions of animal rights, they is inconsistent with current African thinking, international conservation agencies and treaties.

This broader view helps to perceive important role what role indigenous peoples and local communities play in protecting their environment, and how ignoring their rights and customs has contributed to our current environmental crisis any.

Hard-won rights are not easily relinquished. Existing African governments have thus successfully overturned colonial laws in favor of their citizens, and can therefore be expected to vigorously resist any attempt to undermine these policies. .

In the area of ​​conservation, these policies include recognizing the rights of rural African communities to sustainable use of their wildlife. Sustainable use includes developing wildlife-based industries – including hunting and photographic tourism – linking these communities to high-value, global markets for wildlife African wild.

Colonialism has destroyed traditional, centuries-old systems in which African communities lived with wildlife and used it in sustainable ways. These people suddenly became poachers of animals that overnight were no longer their property to freely use.

Restoring rural communities’ rights to their natural resources is by no means straightforward. Many communities have had to relocate from their former territories and in some cases need to rebuild their cultural and social norms and learn to work within modern policy frameworks.

The traditional relationship with nature has been broken as a result of historical upheavals and modern urbanization trends. Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is therefore a journey that southern African communities and governments embarked on in the post-colonial era, towards the future of African conservation. Given the complexities of Africa today, this journey will not be short or easy.

These rights transfer efforts have been promoted recently from the African Union’s human rights body, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in the form of 489 . resolutionwhich calls on African countries and NGOs to recognize and support the rights of local communities to manage and sustainably use their resources.

This solution is implemented in the context Charter of Africa on Human Rights and Human Rights affirms the right of all peoples to “freely dispose of their goods and natural resources” (Article 21) and the right to “economic, social and cultural development”. with regard to their freedom and identity” (Article 22).

This solidarity comes at a time when the concept is threatened on many fronts. Namibia’s CBNRM program, considered the most advanced of its kind on the continent, has become a special goal for those who seem to like the colonial animal protection methods formerly applied to Africans.

Similarly, proposed anti-poaching laws in the UK and US focus on animal protection, while ignoring the rights of local communities to practice their conservation approaches.

This overemphasis on hunting caused by this ideological war reduces the real problems that need to be urgently addressed if conservation in Africa is to be successful. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the state of the natural world and the measures needed to protect it, the world government and the Africa Commission, local communities are in dire need of assistance from all parties involved, especially after COVID-19.

Instead of puncturing community conservation efforts or trying to impose romanticized ideas about animals on people living with wildlife, time and money would be much better spent finding solutions to many of the challenges faced by rural people.

Ultimately, the future of Africa’s wildlife will be decided by the people of Africa – especially those living in rural areas. These communities have faced human rights abuses and marginalization for decades, so all public and non-state organizations provide the kind of support they need to make it happen. fully exercise their rights.

Furthermore, none of these supporting stakeholders should specify how these rights will be exercised, but instead create an enabling environment that enables informed, democratic decision-making at the management level. lowest possible value.

Instead of opposing African countries with active hunting industries, global North can become a real partner in the conservation of Africa by supporting community conservation efforts. While African countries must heed the call of Resolution 489 by enacting and implementing their own community conservation policies, this would be easier if Britain, the United States and other governments Other governments assist them in these efforts.

Given the current environmental crisis and the history of colonialism in Africa, creating barriers to community-based conservation is counterproductive and unjust. Despite its many detractors, the African conservation community is here to stay.

The only question external stakeholders must answer is: Are you willing to set aside ideology to support African communities conserving their wildlife for the benefit of all of us? ?

Lesle Jansen is the CEO of Resource Africa Southern Africa, an NGO that supports the efforts of rural African communities. to secure their rights access and sustainably use natural resources to sustain their livelihoods.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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