[Marxism] question re Mary Leakey
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Feb 6 08:04:31 MST 2013
On 2/6/2013 4:25 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> ... son Richard ran for office in Kenya against the entrenched corrupt
> party in power.
I met him once here in South Africa about 15 years ago, when he came to
argue quite a curious yet vital case (foretelling similar Rio+20 debates
last year): nature shouldn't be thrown to markets. As Mugabe had just
said, "Species have to pay to stay." Leakey's rebuttal was pleasing to
my eco-socialist ears even if the Kenyan post-neocolonial liberalism
grated. Have a look...
Africa must pay for its wildlife
26 Sep 1997 <http://mg.co.za/author/staff-reporter>
Conservationist Richard Leakey pulled no punches in a recent debate in
Gauteng, writes Fiona Macleod
There is a story about a randy young male ostrich who spots three female
ostriches on the horizon and sets off after them. They are not at all
interested in his advances and they run away, with the young male in hot
pursuit. They keep running, but every time they look back, he's still
Eventually, after he has chased them for many kilometres, the females
tire of the game. They stop and promptly stick their heads in the sand.
The young male, finally catching up with them, screeches to a halt in
great confusion. Now what on earth happened to those three lovely girls?
he ponders to himself before going on his way again.
Its a story that sprang to mind during a public debate last weekend on
sustainable utilisation as a conservation strategy simply put, the
theory that in order to survive, wildlife must pay its way. The decision
in June by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(Cites) to resume trade in ivory was prompted by three Southern African
countries Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia which, like the three female
ostriches, have buried their heads in the sand. South Africa, which
supported their stand but did not play a direct role in the decision, is
like the randy young male ostrich: it has lost the plot.
The topic of last weekends debate was Does wildlife have to pay to stay?
Speaking in favour of sustainable utilisation of wildlife was John
Hanks, former head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and now
executive director of the newly formed Peace Parks Foundation, which has
ambitious plans to set up a numer of transfrontier reserves in Africa.
Richard Leakey, Kenyas formidable
palaeoanthropologist-cum-conservationist-cum-politician, took up a stand
against it and effectively blew giant holes in the
Leakey started out by berating the conservation authorities in
post-isolation South Africa for ignoring the fact that they are now part
of Africa and that their actions have an impact on the rest of the
Robert Mugabe was unfortunately persuaded by dubious advisers to say at
Cites that if a species is to stay, it must pay. It was an arrogant and
irrelevant statement that deserves nothing but condemnation from people
like you, he said to Hanks. It should not have been allowed to happen.
It was a despicable, political statement about the value of a species
that will cost us for years to come.
In his opening address at the debate, Hanks had painted a grim picture
of Africa and its future. He argued that, given these circumstances, the
only way to persuade African governments of the importance of preserving
biodiversity is to attach an economic value to it.
Leakey replied: The only way to win this battle is to avoid the price
tag ... I am not personally opposed to wildlife utilisation. But
restricting it to private reserves run largely by Caucasians is like
sitting on a time bomb that will go bang. Biodiversity must not be
regarded as the preserve of the foreigner.
We mustnt make the mistake of excluding people from their land. One way
to soften the inside/outside divide is to get into community
involvement. This has become fashionable now.
But, having been a champion of sharing revenue with communities, I am
now opposed to it. Poor people cannot be expected to make the right
judgments about the protection of species. Communities must share
resources ... but its not a question of asking them to get involved in
managing national parks.
Boundaries [of national parks and reserves] must be kept intact and
protected. We need to recognise that national parks are sacrosanct; they
are not larders to be plundered ... and exploited by later corrupt
We must get our priorities right: nature is invaluable. Biodiversity
cannot be given a price. We must stop messing about with it from a sense
It is unrealistic to think we will go forward by saying that species
must pay to stay, given Africas present constructs. It is homo sapiens
who must pay. The point is that species must stay, so we must pay.
Leakey mentioned fund-raising and taxation as two of the more obvious
means of getting humankind to pay for conservation. Most Africans, he
said, regard wildlife as an important resource that they would want
their governments to look after and they would not object to taxes being
dedicated to this end. Water, for example, is generally recognised as a
natural resource of economic value, and people are prepared to pay for it.
Nature-based tourism, though capable of raising large sums of money,
does not provide the total solution, he said, because much of the money
ends up in private pockets and is not ploughed back into conservation.
Ecotourism is never going to pay for the species to stay. There has to
be another agenda.
Hanks pointed out that countries such as Zimbabwe simply do not have the
money to dedicate to conservation. During his time at the head of WWF,
he added, he had found that foreign donors often promise huge sums, but
are short on delivery.
Leakeys response was that he had embarked on a fund-raising campaign
when he was appointed head of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Within one
year I had raised $300-million dollars ... The money is there. If you
are struggling, perhaps you should revisit some of the issues I have
raised during this debate.
Hanks said research had shown that management of protected areas costs
about $200 per kilometre each year. But Leakey said this was an
irresponsible figure: experience in the great parks of Kenya had shown
that it could be reduced by 50% when the trade in ivory was banned,
chiefly because poaching had virtually stopped.
He said Citess decision to resume the ivory trade was based on the
argument that it was now possible to control the export of ivory. But
control was not possible in the past when trade was legal about 70% of
the ivory leaving Africa was unaccounted for and there was no evidence
that controls would be any better now.
Leakey challenged the South African conservation authorities to come up
with more innovative ways to ensure that wildlife does not disappear in
the new millennium. Or they too would stand accused of simply sticking
their heads in the sand.
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