Recently, conservation film producer Chris Mason attended the 4th International Wildlife Management Congress 2012 in Durban. He had some interesting observations: do we need to manage wildlife, or do we need to manage the people and their attitude? An interesting question, that is also a valid question in ocean conservation. There are many countries with good legislations for wildlife conservation, but certain species are still poached to extinction. Read Chris’ interesting story!
Cooperative Wildlife Management Across Borders: Learning in the Face of Change
A personal account by Chris Mason
After attending the IV IWMC, two things have become clear to me; firstly the challenges we face in wildlife management in this day and age are more about managing human behaviour than that of wildlife, and these challenges are not separate and confined to individual countries, but shared across borders, throughout Africa, and the world.
The conference was informative and well-attended, with delegates from around the globe gathering to discuss the most important topics of the moment and search for potential solutions. The workshops were academic by nature, and generally unrelated, but certain themes were carried through as undertones. One was trans-border wildlife management and the loss of animals through poaching, and the other the challenge of changing human perceptions regarding the conservation of their wildlife resources on a local and international scale.
I came away with the understanding that we as a global society are facing an immanent and shared danger. It is the logical conclusion of our current trajectory; that we will wipe out most of biodiversity on earth in a combined effort of consumption and carelessness. It seems that conservationists and those trying to preserve wildlife habitats come up against all manner of powerful and uncompromising opponents, from armies to governments to the private sector. As conservationist and keynote speaker Shane Mahoney said about the last wild places, “None of them will last without our interference”.
The realities of protecting our precious yet already dwindling wild life and spaces then begin to seem slim. But all is not lost, and it really becomes a question of social values. Are we prepared to fight for the survival of our local environments, protect what lives in our back-yards? If not, it seems be had better start doing so. Because if we cannot protect our own natural heritage, what chance to we have of protecting anyone else’s, or expecting them to do so? And without a total re-think about the way the global population of the late-capitalist era interacts with the natural world, we may be in danger of eating, killing and razing to the ground all the most precious resources we have. As Mahoney says “If conservation is to have any chance, it must be grounded in the hearts and minds of the people”. In other words, we need to invest some thought into how much we care about stopping our planet from becoming a desolate parking lot.