A review by Eugene LaPointe from Wild Jag

 

AFRICAN ENVIRONMENTALIST SPEAKS OUT ON HIS NEW BOOK

In January 2020 the world will for the first time read a tell-all book that exposes the little-known dark secrets about the global wildlife management politics.

This book focuses on one of the most frustrating realities. That African countries have abundant elephant populations and products such as ivory but ironically can’t use them and therefore remain needlessly poor. The African lands are also groaning under the weight of thousands of dust-gathering tonnes of rhino horn worth more than US$1 trillion.  Yes, rhino horn only. Then Africa also has about US$2 trillion tonnes of ivory that it can’t sell internationally. Yet, Africans continue to suffer the indignity of being poor, with school children sadly sometimes falling into pit-toilets, skipping school because of hunger and lack of sanitary wear. As if this was not enough, many African people in both urban and rural communities still walking barefoot in the 21st century. We are ironically resource-rich but very poor.

This must-read book takes a very disruptive approach. It helps show the world that the Western animal rights groups’ continued scandalous vote-buying from weak and bribable CITES member countries to ban ivory and rhino horn trade, including wildlife trophy hunting is denying Africa the opportunities to trade. When that happens, it makes it difficult for affected countries to wriggle out of poverty without opportunity to trade in their wildlife and its products.

The book is meant to be read and understood by every literate person on earth so that they have an informed opinion on what works for wildlife conservation in Africa. It explains how Western animal rights groups and governments that support them to avoid losing political votes; continue to needlessly contribute to the ongoing wildlife poaching and poverty in Africa. They do so by blocking the continent’s potential economic growth and employment creation by sponsoring wildlife and wildlife products trade bans. They always unjustifiably oppose ivory and rhino horn trade within the decision-making framework of the UN Convention on International Trade In Endangered Wild Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The book raises many questions that every African and genuine friends of Africa need to address without delay. It appeals for the need to correct the unwelcome and very harmful anti-wildlife trade experiments that the West continues to impose on Africa.

How can Africa create income for conservation and development while the West continues to prevent elephant overpopulated African countries from trading in their hundreds of stockpiled tonnes of ivory and rhino horn?  How can Africa conserve its wildlife and wilderness areas when sport hunting that also earns the continent millions of dollars and creates thousands of jobs is being demonized and banned?

Despite the continent’s poverty challenges, the book illustrates glimpses of poverty-reducing possibilities in rural Southern Africa, under the programme called Community Based Natural Resources Management  (CBNRM).  The CBNRM initiative enables rural communities to benefit from wildlife. It is a mind-set changing development approach whose benefits have transformed former poachers into absolute wildlife conservationists. It has made very traditional communities that used to resist  family planning embrace it, in order to avoid overpopulating land set aside for wildlife conservation.

 Sadly, the Western animal rights groups’ opposition to wildlife trade and hunting is a big threat to the survival of wildlife in Africa and socioeconomic wellbeing of African communities. The Western animal rights groups’ heartless celebration of African poverty through influencing decisions within CITES to block all forms of wildlife use and trade continue to stand in the way of Africa’s escape from poverty.

Therefore, it is a missed opportunity for Africa in general and for elephant overpopulated Southern Africa in particular that the opportunity to legally,  freely and fairly trade in its abundant ivory and rhino horn stockpiles continues to be blocked. 

It is against this unfortunate background, that SADC presidents’ whose countries collectively  have about US$3 trillion worth of  stockpiled ivory and rhino recently  made direct appeals to UN agency CITES Secretary General at a June 2019 Victoria Falls African Wildlife Economy Summit. But Ms Ivonne Higuero could not assist because it’s not her, but CITES member countries that vote on whether or not to trade. However, Ms Higuero can assist in different way. She needs to ensure that in the future CITES should not allow vote-rigging to take place within CITES. Without vote-rigging, Africa might stand a chance to have CITES member countries vote in favour of their bid to trade in their  abundant wildlife and wildlife products. 

But fed up African countries, particularly wildlife-rich SADC states can’t wait any longer for CITES or Ms Higuero to do them favors after having failed to do so since 1975 and most recently at the August 2019 Geneva CITES COP18.

Accordingly, on 26 November 2019 eight SADC countries made formal declarations refusing to accept more of CITES’ unfair, harmful and prohibitive trade rules dealing with wildlife and wildlife products. They dismissed the CITES voting process and prohibitive trading rules as “tainted, rigged and not free and fair” and protested by going on reservations. According to various articles of the Convention, a reservation over a particular species means that a protesting country would no longer have to adhere to CITES rules with respect to trade in a particular species. They would no longer be restricted from trading in the species and their products with other countries that also claim the same reservation, or non-members of the Convention.

Then the book explores and acknowledges the support from well-meaning pro-sustainable use NGOs from the Western countries such as the Switzerland-based IWMC-World Conservation Trust. These supportive friends of Africa also include the Los Angeles-based Ivory Education Institute.

The  role of the Western and African countries in the divisive pro and anti-wildlife trade debate is also discussed. Questions are raised if the  media balances animal rights with human rights when it reports on the controversial wildlife trade issues. Furthermore, questions are asked why some sections of the media don’t see that it’s wrong and hypocritical to blame their governments for failing to grow their economies and create employment, yet it’s some of these select media organisations that oppose their governments’ quest to trade in their abundant wildlife and its products. How do these media few media organisations think that their governments can meaningfully grow their economies and create employment while the growth of their wildlife economy is being continuously stunted through internationally wildlife trade bans that they ironically support? These are stupid and insane economic sanctions that continue to paralyse Africa in poverty.

This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to know the truth about world wildlife trade politics and how it can harm the African people and their wildlife with whom they co-exist.

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK

I wrote this book in pursuit of being a relevant African man. I am an African environmental writer who writes without fear and favor to expose the outsider influence that is scandalously preventing African countries from benefiting from their wildlife.

 With the regrettable and unfortunate tag of being resource-rich poor, the African countries that are home to elephants and rhino (elephant and rhino range states) in particular have for the past 44 years failed to significantly benefiting from hunting their wildlife, trade in their ivory and rhino horn. This was caused by the Western animal rights groups and their countries that have captured the UN Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

For years, they have been telling a damaging lie that the wellbeing of the African rhino and elephant population lies in continuing the international ban in the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Is the world too blind to see that despite the 44-year trade ban in both ivory and rhino horn trade poaching continues to increase. Africa in particular has logically argued but without been listened to, that we must be allowed to use our wildlife in order to create incentives to conserve it. This includes the need for commercial wildlife hunting, strictly controlled international trade in ivory and rhino horn. When we suggest this as I am doing, the predominantly Western animal rights groups threaten us with boycott our countries as their tourist destination and we cowardly listen to them.  Where will they go to see the rhino after boycotting the almost terrorist-free Southern African elephant and rhino range states?

Pro-sustainable use Southern African countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland are considered as much safer tourist destinations than the Western animal rights groups influenced Kenya. These Western tourist’s threats boycott to countries that trade in ivory and rhino horn and hunt have never been implemented. They are empty threats that should be dismissed anytime with the contempt that they deserve or invite.

Therefore, the wildlife-rich SADC countries should go ahead to trade in their rhino horn and ivory so that they stand a bigger chance of making more money to promote conservation of these endangered rhinos and elephants, including from tourist visits. They must conduct wildlife hunting without fear, as Botswana has started doing after a unwarranted former President Ian Khama’s imposed five-year ban.

In fact, Southern African rhino and elephant ranges states have in my view been under elephant and rhino horn trade sanctions imposed by these western animal rights through their scandalous capture of CITES member countries whose votes against rhino and elephant trade they continue to buy.

Therefore, it is high time that the Geneva-based CITES Secretariat stops animal rights groups from doing this as this means that there has been voting rigging within CITES since they started buying votes. This thankfully, is a matter that continues to be exposed by pro-sustainable use NGOs, including the True Green Alliance here in Africa that wants CITES not to accredit animal rights groups using a strict vetting system that leaves the corrupt vote-buying ones out. This view is also support by the Geneva-based IWMC – World Conservations Trust.

 In my view, it is high time we engaged in legal and African poverty-ending trade in ivory and rhino horn without being scared of animal rights’ empty threats.

Therefore, I would like to urge all relevant and pro-sustainable wildlife use men and women worldwide, to start challenging the elephant and rhino conservation myth that animal rights have and are continuing to spread that trade in wildlife products harms wildlife conservation. Not forgetting to challenge the myth that elephant hunting and the hunting of wildlife in general threatens wildlife survival. On the contrary, the South American vicuña conservation model shows that trade in wildlife products incentives conservation. The lesson learnt is that legal markets lead to the closure of illegal ones. Observers conclude that the secret to the vicuña conservation success was linked to giving rights to communities to shear, process and trade the wool. Another valuable lesson is that the participation of the private sector in collaboration with regulators and community organizations was crucial in enabling the establishment of an international value chain.

Here is why the vicuña fur trade lesson should apply to rhino horn trade. One doesn’t need to kill a rhino, in order to use its horn. One simply needs to harvest it. We learnt from the South American vicuña conservation model that a live vicuña is more valuable than a dead one from which only one harvest can be conducted.  The same with the rhino. A live rhino is more valuable than a dead one from which only one harvest can be conducted. 

Therefore, I wrote this book with great hope to end misleading outsider influence on wildlife use in Africa. Africa must be allowed to hunt its wildlife, engage in legal international trade in wildlife and products such as rhino horn and ivory to promote sustainable development.

This book is an honest attempt to make the patriotic African men and women and their children, see the need to break the continent’s outsider imposed poverty cycle. We should never stupidly accept inadequate and strings-attached animal rights donations to ‘save’ elephants and rhinos that they are threatening by sponsoring trade bans in ivory and rhino horn that in turn create demand on black market and inevitably lead to poaching.

When an experiment fails, an alternative should be sought. That alternative includes wildlife hunting, international trade in rhino horn and ivory. This is the new wildlife, including rhino and elephant conservation pathway that African countries should take. It is also an exciting and promising must-follow poverty-ending route for a continent that is resource-rich but poor. African women, men and children who really want to do something good for their wildlife and the poor communities must now stand up and be counted. They should put an end to the western animal groups failed anti-trade wildlife management agenda in Africa.

With rhino and ivory trade ban in place African elephant and rhino range states are at their weakest to stop poaching they cannot make money from rhino horn and ivory trade. The result is an increase in poaching and the poachers also benefit as they take advantage of poorly funded rhino and elephant security systems in African range states.

Worse still, rural communities neighboring national parks do not have incentives to protect from poachers, rhinos and elephant that destroy their crops, kill their livestock and livestock without benefits. Literally, the rhinos and elephants have become a pest that they hate intensely and would rather collaborate with poachers in exchange of a few dollars.

Why is it that it is only Africa that gets told not to trade in its abundant resource by external forces? Are we too patient to remain a resource-rich poor continent?

Notable, animal rights groups also seem to have double standards when dealing with environmental issues. For example, they know that oil harms the environment, including wildlife that they claim to love so much, but they have never dared to impose their anti-use and anti-trade ideology, on the governments of Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Russia, Qatar, Kuwait and Venezuela to stop trading in their oil to protect humankind from harmful climate change impacts such as droughts and floods, save the environment, including wildlife. They know very well that they will meet with fierce opposition and would not be welcome in these powerful oil-producing countries, even if it were their home countries. So where does that leave resource-rich poor African continent?  Wake-up resource-rich poor Africa.

Forbidden from trading in its ivory and rhino horn and fed with inadequate and strings-attached donor funds Africa is becoming weaker not stronger.

Therefore, African leaders and people should tell the world that trade not aid will deliver their continent from what is clearly, an externally imposed cycle of poverty. Are these not crimes against the African people and their environment for which the perpetrators should be prosecuted? Are these not violations of African people’s rights to legally trade in what they own in abundance?

It is very wrong to talk about animal rights without talking about human rights. What does this say about the human rights records of Western animal rights groups and governments?  Where does the International Court of Justice? This Court is well known for prosecuting problematic African leaders whom it judges to have committed crimes against humanity but not so for the equally guilty animal rights groups whose crimes are against both humanity and mother nature that underpins African people’s survival.

This book mirrors resource-rich Africa’s sad reality that needs to change for a better tomorrow. We need an Africa now or never sustainable development consciousness movement. It must gain momentum, in order to bring international attention and action to end the painful reality of resource-rich poor continent.  Where are African leaders as the continent continues to be resource-rich but poor? Where is the media? Where are the pro-sustainable use non-governmental organisations, our academics, our politicians, churches, our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters? If unresolved what future does a resource-rich poor African continent have for our children.

I dedicate this book to all African people, who really want to know who owns and controls their resources and sometimes steals them directly or indirectly. Through the knowledge shared in this publication, I hope that Africans can begin to call for an end to this insane violation of their rights to benefit from their wildlife and in the process generate the much-needed to protect their wildlife Western-made poaching.

About the writer: Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.