It is high time Africa start taking control of conservation

2020-11-15 17:06:42
It is high time Africa start taking control of conservation

In Africa, the conservation story has for a long time been told from an outside perspective – the perspective of science, and the West. But Africans need to change this.

The current coronavirus pandemic is a direct consequence of Africa’s broken relationship with nature. Scientists have long been warning that humanity’s destruction of nature, left unchecked, will undauntedly result in the spread of deadly diseases, droughts, famines as well as other disasters.

For many decades, amid the hustle and bustle of daily lives, these warnings unfortunately fell on deaf ears. But Africa no longer has the luxury to ignore the obvious interconnection between human health and nature. The continuous loss of biodiversity is seriously threatening the existence of all living beings, including Africans.

And this is exactly where conservation comes into play. Conservation is the strongest weapon available to protect the planet that we call home. However, while conservation is crucial for our survival, its significance is not being communicated to masses in an efficient way, especially where it matters the most – in African continent.

In Africa, the conservation story has for a really long been told from an outside perspective – the perspective of science, and the West. The African peoples, cultures, heritage, knowledge and aspirations have only been a minor part of the conversation, an afterthought. Africans need to change this, and reclaim their role in the fight to save the planet as well as the future of humans.

Africa’s human population is anticipated to double by 2050. That would be 2.5 billion people, meaning more than a quarter of the world’s people will reside in Africa. And nearly 70 percent of Africans will be under the age of 40. This will undoubtedly add to the momentum of the continent’s development.

Nevertheless, nature is already being ruined at unprecedented rates in Africa in the name of development. The way Africa produces and consumes food and energy, coupled with disregard for the environment entrenched in its economic system, have already brought the natural world of the continent close to a breaking point. A rapid rise in population is likely to expedite this destruction.

Nonetheless, it is still possible to build a future in which the continent’s biodiversity is safe and protected, its peoples are fed, industries are running, and its economies are both sustainable and prosperous.

To achieve this goal, we need to make conservation a main concern for all Africans. It is arrogant to think other species sharing this continent should pay the price for our development. Giraffes, for example, are only found in Africa. They have a right to exist as much as humans do. And their survival is tied to the continent’s survival.

Africans can only truly understand this if they are exposed to content underlining the significance of biodiversity and conservation regularly.

It is no secret that television programs, newspaper articles and social media outlets determine what we talk about in our homes, workplaces and local eateries. We are what we watch and read.

This is why it is high time the media – both traditional and social – steps up to its job of setting the agenda and turns its primary focus to what really matters: the environment. The people who have the ability to reach millions of Africans on a daily basis and shape the narratives in African households also wield the power to make sure that wildlife thrives in today’s Africa.

If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic can teach us all, it is that the health of humans is one and the same as the health of nature and wildlife. When this pandemic is finally over, we cannot afford to return to “normal” and continue ignoring the destruction caused in the name of development. And it is up to the African youth to keep us all on the right path.

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