Friday, May 6, 2011

Wildlife Protection

As you are all well aware, animal rights is a big deal to me. I refuse to use products that aren't cruelty free and I do my part for animal conservation. I believe that I should be the voice for the voiceless and I take my role seriously. That is why I am so very happy to share this story with you...

While in Ghanzi for shadowing, I learned that environmental (and thus wildlife) protection is very important in Botswana. There are a number of protected parks and game reserves that play a huge role in tourism and in preserving endangered species - Botswana takes great pride in protected them. Until then, however, I had not learned much about this. I came upon this information primarily because the village is near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), which spawned a series of questions from me about the potential for seeing wildlife while I was visiting. They confirmed that an elephant had wandered through the village the proceeding week (wanted an adventure outside Moremi perhaps?) and that lions often get through the fencing around the CKGR and attack cattle (Botswana's main industry). This is the nexus of this post.

When lions get out of the CKGR and attack someone's cattle, the farmers are permitted to shoot the lion. (No matter how you look at it, lions on the loose are dangerous. If the lions are destroying someone's livelihood, they are also crippling. So, despite everything, I understand this.) The turning point in this story is this: if the lion is shot and killed, the farmer is required to contact the Ministry of Wildlife to pick up the carcass. The carcass is then skinned and the hide is prepared to be sold at auction. People from all over the world will then bid on the finished pelt, often going for significant prices. All of the money then goes back into the game reserve. This usually means mending fences, helping to keep the lions and other wildlife inside the park and therefore safe and protected. In some instances, this could even mean helping to bring more endangered species to the park and promote breeding and revitalization. More animals, safer animals, and better game reserves.

In the end, wildlife protection is the driving force behind it all. The animals are very important to the Batswana and they have put systems in place to ensure they thrive. Now that is something I can stand behind and one of the many reasons that the parks in Botswana are known as the most brilliant in the entire world. Go Bots!

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