Plan to move African wildlife to America would undermine ecotourism and African economies say African conservationists
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
August 23, 2005
A proposal to create a refuge for African wildlife in North America has come under harsh criticism from African conservationists according to a report from Sapa-AFP.
The idea, proposed by 13 ecologists and conservation biologists in last week’s Nature, calls for the reintroduction of large mammals that once roamed the North American continent but were wiped out by climate change coinciding with the arrival of spear-carrying humans. The plan would introduce the animals over 50 years, starting with horses and camels, and eventually working up to elephants and big predatory cats.
The idea immediately faced widespread criticism in the States but is now being dismissed by African conservationists as well.
“This sounds like fiction to me,” Uganda Wildlife Authority chief Moses Mapesa told AFP in Kampala. “The Americans are great people, they have gone to the moon, but I don’t think that this is a great way to do things in conservation… If they want to support and feel strongly as it sounds, they should support conservation work where it is.”
Critics of the plan are especially concerned with the economic implications of moving African wildlife to another continent. Bogonko Bosire, author of the AFP article writes, “Many critics of the proposal noted with disgust the scientists’ view that their plan would generate tourism and boost depressed US local economies at a time when poverty reduction in Africa is purported to be a chief international concern. Animal relocation would hit East Africa particularly hard” since “the region’s economy depends heavily on tourism revenue that would drop if potential North American visitors could stay at home to see exotic species in the wild.” Such a scheme would effectively undermine ecotourism efforts on the continent.
“Why would most Americans want to visit Africa if they can see the same animals in the ‘wild’ at home,” asks Ty McGibben, a recent visitor to Gabon and Uganda.
The report used quotes and information from an article by AFP.