Revelations while stalking Lion in Botswana.
I can’t believe we are actually here.
The Kalahari Desert is one of the rawest areas of Southern Africa to experience the bush and see wildlife. For years I have dreamed of going deep into this remote region where herds of wildlife roam the landscape and the only access is by 4×4 through deep-sand two-track roads.
There it is again, a Lion’s roar to the west. With huge eyes Margrit quietly turns to me. In the glow of the morning sun we quickly finish stowing the roof top tent and throw the rest of our gear into the Land Rover. This may be the sighting we’ve been hoping for.
You know, there is something different about encountering Lions. Most other wildlife fill you with wonder and awe as they prance before you or bound away in waves. With Lions, even the anticipation is packed with fear yet there is an immense desire to confront the King of the Jungle.
Ample evidence but we are frustrated in actually catching a glimpse of him. Next morning a Hollander shares his experience of 2 male Lions joining his camp at sunrise. We anxiously expect something similar for 4 days but nothing. I think those Kalahari big cat documentaries must be staged… similar to the moon landing. 😉 Or maybe it is just the luck of the draw.
The next day we are more fortunate to visit Steve Henley the big cat researcher with one of the larger research/conservation projects in Botswana, Leopard Ecology and Conservation. It turns out spending time with a man who chases Lions and Leopards for a living is almost better than seeing them.
His passion for helping wildlife is infectious and what he does is not staged. Steve says, “I can’t deny the fact that I enjoy it. This is something dear to me and working with people of similar values and enthusiasm is also appealing.”
Our discussion, however, takes a surprising turn.
Of course we find out all about this fascinating Animal Ecologist and his current project. But compared with all our previous interviews this comes closest to defining the real problem with present wildlife conservation and its’ scary implications.
- Bottom line, consumerism is taking over the world and doing what’s right is playing second fiddle, especially for wildlife.
The ‘if it pays it stays’ attitude has all but replaced the ‘do what is right for wildlife’ mantra creating a huge decline in true wildlife warriors and they are not being replaced.
The big changes in conservation that have to take place are not necessarily in scientific knowledge or management. It is an ethical and moral thing similar to the 1960’s when people finally got together to do the right things for wildlife.
- But what do you do a midst this narcissistic Tsunami that leaves ethics and morals behind… scary!!
Most of the people in decision making positions in Africa, investors, the general public and the hunters paying big bucks to come and shoot, culturally do not possess the compassion towards wildlife in large enough measure to outweigh the dollars involved.
Ironically China has fueled the African Tsunami with overwhelming amounts of cash and investment which is westernizing local cultures and expanding the upper and middle classes. A good thing in many ways, but not in a vacuum of morals and ethics.
It is understood that we cannot exist without consuming but we must have the heart to do it without exploitation.
And how we treat wildlife is just the tip of iceberg!
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