Not everything touted to be good for wildlife conservation is, however, here are five reasons why small reserves just might be.
A couple of years ago Russ and I attended a fascinating ranger talk at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. Creating corridors along the Rocky Mountains for predators like the mountain lion was under discussion.
I learned from that presentation and a book I’d read about rewilding that huge areas are needed for effective preservation of ecosystems and the full spectrum of species that once lived on the plains, mountains, savannah, desert and the bush. Transfrontier parks, those that transverse country boundaries, have been created in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Some have been successful and others not. However, the topic of conversation is not these large parks or reserves but the smaller ones that are frequently found near quite populated areas.
Where do the smaller game parks and reserves fit in to the wildlife conservation picture?
Some say they are detrimental, isolating species and thus shrinking diversity more and more over time. Others, like the game farms taut they are contributing to the numbers and therefore aiding wildlife conservation. The latter may be more a matter of quantity than quality as a limited variety of specie, based on what sells for either hunting or auction, are found on game farms.
What about the small reserves?
Whenever we have a chance we visit small reserves we find along the way. Reserves like Rietvlei near Pretoria, Ezemvelo a bit further east, Spionkop in Kwazulu-Natal, Hlane in Swaziland, and the Rhino Sanctuary south of Gaborone in Botswana, to name a few. These small reserves, and the odd game park where we spend the night, although not complete natural ecosystems, do seem to serve a purposes in the realm of wildlife conservation.
Five ways small reserves contribute to wildlife conservation
- It may be the only place some people ever see wildlife in a quasi wild environment.
- Due to proximity photographers have easier access to provide the rest of us with dazzling images of wildlife.
- It protects parcels of land for all nature.
- They provide opportunities for wildlife and nature education programs.
- They offer weekend escapes into ‘the bush’ for human rejuvenation.
Although not the ideal, small reserves do seem to contribute to wildlife conservation. They put humans in touch with nature in a way not otherwise possible for many.