Designating boundaries is not sufficient to safeguard protected areas. National parks are being exploited by extraction companies, while other protected areas have become the hunting grounds of poachers.
Though South Africa remains the epicenter of Africa’s poaching crisis, its neighbors are feeling the impact of the illicit wildlife trade as well. Namibia, for example, lost an average of 1.25 rhinos per year between 2009 and 2012, five in 2013… and 24 in 2014.
At more than 30 million sq. km, the continent of Africa could accommodate the United States, China, India and Europe and still have room to spare. Open, wild land on the continent is becoming scarcer, however.
Without buy-in from people, conservation efforts rarely work. Which was why, when AWF launched a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project in north–central Tanzania with the Norwegian Embassy a few years ago, one of our main goals was to introduce residents to sustainable livelihood activities that would reduce their reliance on the forests.
If wealth were measured in biodiversity, the forests of the Congo Basin would be rich indeed. Wildlife from the endangered bonobo to the Congo peacock can be found in this ecosystem, not to mention more than 600 species of trees (and that’s just the tree species that are known).