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Map of conservation areas in Namibia
Figure 1. Map of conservation areas in Namibia

In his IUCN report titled ‘Africa is changing: should its protected areas evolve? Reconfiguring the protected area in Africa’, wildlife vet and protected areas consultant Bertrand Chardonnet suggests that the following factors are required in order to effectively conserve biodiversity in Africa’s protected areas:

1. A minimum of US$7-8 per hectare per year of funding
2. Political backing and management skills
3. Support from local communities

Chardonnet also suggests that the larger, more ecologically intact areas are vital because they hold higher biodiversity than the smaller, more disturbed areas. Human population growth is mentioned as placing increasing pressure on these protected areas.

He recommends an increase in protected area size and boundaries, not by evicting people already living in those areas, but rather by the reclassification of areas not currently under sufficient ecological protection.

Evolution in the human population density in five Africa countries from 1960 to 2017
Figure 2. Evolution in the human population density in five Africa countries from 1960 to 2017

First opportunity:

Chardonnet notes that the ongoing decline in big game / trophy hunting opens up the opportunity to join up former hunting areas with protected areas – this process being subject to the availability of sufficient funding.

Second opportunity:

The second opportunity highlighted by Chardonnet is the potential creation of community tourism conservancies in these areas – with benefits relating to conservation and community development, which will also facilitate better management of human-wildlife conflict. The financing of these tourism projects is seen as a considerable business opportunity.

Chardonnet stresses that no protected area can function without prevailing rule of law and good governance. In this regard, political commitment from governments is vital, as are the related sovereign services of security, rule of law, appropriate legislation and control of its enforcement.

He also emphasised that protected areas cannot be operated in isolation, and that the integration of conservation areas and community development are vital strategies. The combination tourism investment and conservation (donor) funding as a global common good is also highlighted as being vital components for success.

Map of the conservancies and the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Figure 3. Map of the conservancies and the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

The report includes four interesting Appendixes, as follows:

1. Protected Area management categories
2. The decline of big game / trophy hunting in South Africa
3. Main special and socio-economic parameters of big game / trophy hunting in Africa in 2018
4. Analysis of different types of conservancy

This is a brief summary of this thorough and lengthy report, and we advise you to read it in full, in order to better understand the issues.

Reconfiguring the protected areas in Africa


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BERTRAND CHARDONNET is a doctor in veterinary medicine by training. After a doctoral thesis in Guinea Bissau on wildlife management, he started to work in West Africa in 1985 as adviser for livestock breeding. Over the years, he has worked as chief game warden of Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in Central Africa Republic, adviser to the Director of Wildlife in Burkina Faso, adviser to the Minister of Environment in Chad and head of Rinderpest eradication in West and Central Africa.

During this time, he also served as co-chair of the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group. He has also performed wildlife veterinary services and consulted as protected areas and wildlife specialist, focusing on ecological monitoring, anti-poaching strategies, conservation strategies and protected areas planning.

Chardonnet has worked in 40 African countries, and today he focuses on training, ecotourism and wildlife photography.

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