The loss of endangered and threatened wildlife continues at alarming rates. Wildlife conservation and biodiversity strategies are not working and will not until wildlife is no longer viewed as a commodity by game ranchers, organized crime and governments.
Phrases like: “sustainable use”, “pay to stay”, “wildlife farms” and “conservation economy” disturb me. The new wildlife conservation and biodiversity edicts appear to be more about engineering nature than preserving wildlife and its habitat. It seems to be more about how wildlife and other resources can be used to sustain human life and eradicate poverty.
At first blush that didn’t sound so bad to me, a couple of years ago. However, now I see it all as a clever way to make money for a few while exploiting the voiceless and powerless (both of the furry, feathered and human variety.)
Wildlife conservation as it is touted by some, appears to be more about numbers than quality of life, more about economics than about the preservation of ecosystems. I recall a lively discussion my husband and I had over a trophy hunting article a few years back. It claimed that trophy hunting was a vehicle to save endangered species, from a numbers point of view maybe, but what about their quality of life? What about living free, with predators in a natural ecosystem instead of being bred for a canned hunt?
What if we viewed our planet’s wildlife more like our children?
We don’t (in healthy families) exploit our children. We don’t have kids so they make us money. We have kids because it’s part of being mortal, part of our journey here on this planet. If we don’t have our own children we don’t buy some so we can exploit them. The people who do are called traffickers, its illegal and we consider them “bad guys”.
Most of us take care of our own and others’ children. We clothe and educate them. We do everything we can to assure they have opportunities to be happy and productive citizens. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do!
What if we took care of our planet’s wildlife like we do our kids? No strings attached! No exploitation!
What if we assured their quality of life just because it’s the right thing to do?
What if everyone didn’t look at a rhino or other endangered species with dollar signs in their eyes, but looked into the animal’s eyes and saw a living breathing being with emotions. Saw it as a wonder of creation that each is!
Now you’re probably saying, that’s all fine and good, but how in the world do we pay for this.
First of all nobody would make money from wildlife, just like our children. That means game ranchers and non-profits alike, hunters and taxidermists and every private owner of wildlife would no longer make an income for themselves from wildlife.
That would eliminate hidden agendas which now run rampant in the field of wildlife conservation, biodiversity and eco-tourism.
How do we pay for our children? Parents, grandparents, churches, non-profits and governments all contribute to the care of the young so they don’t have to pay for their keep.
What if everyone, everywhere contributed in some form to the care of our planet’s wildlife? Now I know there is no panacea, no perfect system that is going to remain squeaky clean, but it sure beats what we’ve got, ‘cos it ain’t working for our wildlife and their habitat. Some project that by the end of this century half of all the animal species will be lost. Habitats are shrinking daily and migratory paths are broken each year with devastating consequences.
So let’s put a moratorium on exploiting our wildlife by phasing out viewing them as a commodity and revisit our stewardship as humans, our stewardship for making this planet habitable for all living creatures, not only today, but tomorrow.
We can only do this by taking the money out of the equation, by viewing and treating our wildlife more like we do our own children.