Despite twenty-five years in Africa, I’d never had the opportunity to see the western lowland gorilla in the wild. Recently, Wilderness Safaris, the South Africa-based tourism company, developed a new destination in Odzala National Park in the Republic of Congo to enable visitors to see these endangered apes, forest elephants and other unique wildlife characteristic of the Congo basin, and to bring some of the benefits of the responsible tourism industry to the parks and people of this country.
Surprisingly, even after two decades of civil war, South Sudan still has a considerable wildlife population. There is a large-scale land migration that rivals that of the Serengeti, numbering about 800,000 white-eared kob, tiang, and other ungulates.
AWF has historically used its own, donor-driven capital to support the development of conservation tourism in key areas under threat. While this strategy has proved successful, it also has its limitations.
I am amazed at how many people still turn their heads to the poaching crisis. Why should we care if elephants fall of the face of the earth? Just one more species bound for extinction...that's life. Survival of the fittest, right? Wrong!
When I heard about the news that China for the first time crushed 6.1 tons of ivory in public, I was just back from three months' field investigative reporting in Africa on Chinese involvement in wildlife trafficking—essentially focused on ivory and rhino horns. I was glad to see tangible action being taken in addition to general embassy announcements stating "Chinese always care about environment and wildlife." Finally, I feel that, we have something solid to show to the world. However, I also deeply understand that this big crush is not enough.