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So. The UK government has banned the import of hunting trophies of thousands of species – including Africa’s Big 5. The impact of this move will be significant, and you can expect a range of implications at ground level here in Africa – some positive, some negative.
In theory, the practice of the surgical removal of genetically gifted individuals from dwindling wild populations could benefit biodiversity and local people. BUT in practice, this industry (and associated government officials) has too many rotten eggs where corruption, lack of transparency and over-exploitation are de rigueur. The cases of well-managed trophy hunting concessions are to be recognised and respected for their effort – but unless the industry self-regulates to weed out the evil ones, we will see more countries follow the UK example. Times have changed – public awareness is amplified, and populism pressure is organised. Politicians that overlooked or rubber-stamped unsustainable offtakes and unsavoury practices in the old days are now being swayed the other way. Every vote counts. This outdated industry will evolve or go extinct.
The great news is that our club membership is growing fast. 2022 will see even more user-friendly tools added to help you plan your safaris and make impactful donations to worthy projects. Thanks to all that have booked safaris and donated so far 🙂
Keep the passion
Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic
From our Scientific Editor
A few years ago, I went white water rafting on the Nile. Obviously, at several points, we capsized and found ourselves at the mercy of the water, tumbling and rolling in the power of the current. I confess I was somewhat terrified when I realised I couldn’t work out up from down.
The last two years have felt a bit like that in some ways. We’ve all been plunged into the current of Covid, helplessly dragged along in its wake. As a result, tourism and travel have floundered, livelihoods and jobs (and lives) have been lost, and dreams have been shattered.
I think that to some, our fuss and indignation over the knee-jerk travel restrictions of the last few weeks might have seemed an overreaction. Still, the knock-on effects are enormous and not necessarily immediately apparent. In the last week, South Africa’s rhinos have been under siege, brutalised in the worst way imaginable. The experts say that there is always a spike in poaching around the Christmas season, but this appears to be particularly bad and carries a very sinister feeling.
Now I’m not saying that this is a direct consequence of the travel restrictions, but there is an obvious correlation. Protecting rhinos costs money. Tourism brings money and helps to conserve wild spaces and wild animals. Without tourism, the organisations tasked with keeping rhinos safe cannot fund the resources that they need to do so, and rhinos die. As economies struggle and more people dip towards or beneath the poverty line, new generations of potential poachers are created.
Africa desperately, urgently needs visitors to keep travelling to her shores to revel in her wild magnificence. Yet for two years, lodges, reserves, private owners and companies across Africa have been battling to keep their heads above water. For many, the long-lasting effects of the Omicron stigma will be the final wave that breaks them.
So thank you for removing us from the Red List but forgive us if we fail to fall over ourselves in gratitude. I know the whole world has found themselves tipped into this river of Covid together but let’s face it, the quality of the life jackets are just not the same.
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TRAVEL DESK UPDATES:
• The UK government has removed all 11 African countries from their Red List and acknowledged that the selective travel restrictions did not prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid. Other nations are expected to follow the UK example.
• Africa is sending anti-vaxxers packing! Botswana and Kenya are introducing regulations to restrict entry to holders of valid vaccination certificates. And so it begins …
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