Pushing out nature to advance civilization is not new so is unwilding Africa simply following what happened in America?
He drops! The last Waterbuck lies dead in the dry grass.
Tears roll down her cheeks, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you!”
Again and Again…
Over the past seven years this all too familiar scene has repeated itself over and over again as the herd of Waterbuck and Bushbuck slowly dwindled at the hands of the poachers.
Her beloved diverse species of antelope including Gemsbok and Kudu have given way to the new wildlife… cattle.
As the European settlers expanded on the American continent, frontiersmen and hunters annihilated millions of Buffalo. Mountain Lions, Bears and Wolves were also killed all to make way for… cattle and farms.
People needed space and room to create livelihoods to survive.
The concept that wild animals and birds had a right to live and needed habitat too, probably never entered the invaders’ minds, to them America was up for grabs.
Is Africa any different than the US 200 years ago?
Is Unwilding Africa simply following America?
For centuries it seems Africa had been preserved or at least sustainably exploited. However, this is sadly no longer the case. The following two maps show the massive changes nature has experienced in Africa since the 1800’s.
In the mid 1970’s Jim bought 1000 acres of pristine land in Botswana. The African bush stretched from one side of the valley to the other and was home to Lion, Gemsbok, Kudu, Zebra, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Impala and hundreds of bird species.
Jim’s three girls grew up literally walking with Lions and running free in the rugged outdoors.
The wildlife lived as it should… free and subject to the ebb and flow of the natural elements and cycles of years of plenty and those of drought.
Then earlier in this century Jim was invited to sell all but 12 acres of his reserve to a government entity to create a five star international game park. However, once the deal was done the land was divided into 4 acre parcels and sold/given to locals to farm. People needed space and room to create livelihoods to survive. Sound familiar?
Other Side of the Coin…
“I’m a farmer.”
He says proudly.
While refueling Russ got talking to the man in the car next to us, he was the very happy recipient of such a parceling up of land… just like this once pristine reserve now divided by fences where cattle push out wildlife in search of food and water.
It dawns on me… this is representative of what’s happening all over Africa!
Today Sam does what she can to protect the remaining wildlife, a few Kudu, Warthogs, the odd Impala herd, and one leopard. She provides access to water and supplement feeding. Shortly before our arrival most of the surviving Gemsbok and Zebra were relocated as they could not clear the fences to reach the waterhole. It had been two years since she first requested the relocation… things get complicated in Botswana as all wildlife belongs to the government, though when on private property the land owner is responsible for the animals’ welfare.
As I sit by the waterhole bird life still abounds, a small Warthog family hurries in, drinks and retreats, and I’m left to imagine the majestic Lion and Antelope that once graced the land such a short time ago.
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