VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and business leaders gathered from across the world in Washington this week to share information and expertise and organize a concerted strategy to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.
The unprecedented collaboration was heralded at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters on Tuesday, at an event held against the backdrop of recent news of a catastrophic plunge in the last wild populations of African elephants and other species. The meeting also set the stage for CITES CoP17, a conference in Johannesburg at the end of this month that will bring more than a hundred governments together to review the planet’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities.
Three decades after the first reports of the arrival in Botswana of Salvinia molesta–a free-floating, mat-forming water fern native to Brazil– scientists from the southern African country’s Department of Water Affairs say they are at last prevailing in the struggle against a weed that has come close to threatening the entire Okavango, Africa’s largest wetlands that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most endangered species.
By Maraya Cornell
A recent article in the New York Times casts Botswana’s hunting ban, enacted just under two years ago, as the disastrous move of a nation acting under the spell of Western animal rights activism.
The author, Norimitsu Onishi, who is the paper’s bureau chief for southern Africa, blames the ban for swelling the number of dangerous animals that terrorize villagers in Sankuyo, where his story is set. And he claims that Sankuyo’s land is “peripheral,” too remote for photo tourism to make up for the income the village lost when trophy hunting ceased.
Both of these conclusions are dubious at best.
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and filmmaker Dereck Joubert, a world-renowned expert on lions and the African wilderness, shoots down the myths trophy hunters use to justify killing big cats. He reveals the devastating impact on African economies, employment, and ecology that hunting inflicts at the cost of the much greater wealth that may be generated from ecotourism, and he calls for support of the petition of the U.S. Government to list the lion as an Endangered Species, which would make it illegal to import lions and their parts (such as trophies) into the U.S.