Encompassing diverse ecosystems, Africa’s network of protected areas is home to rare species facing a combination of threats — habitat conversion, poaching, and bush meat consumption are just some of them. While the challenges vary across landscapes, many national parks and reserves struggle to meet their budgetary needs. The financial shortfall is vast — according to McKinsey Group, the budget gap is estimated upwards of $1.7 billion annually for all developing nations. Uganda, for example — despite being one of the top 10 most biodiverse countries in the world — has a $15 million funding gap for protected area management.
The story of mountain gorillas in recent history is one of violence and turmoil, but also hope and fragile recovery. Through poaching, civil war and genocide, large-scale habitat loss, disease, and hunting for the pet trade, the mountain gorilla hung on. Then, with the help of conservationists and enlightened governments, the gorillas did better than that. Where they numbered perhaps 600 at their lowest point in the 1980s, today they are tipping past 1,000. “Kwita Izina” — an annual celebration in which Rwanda’s newest baby gorillas are named — last year named 19 new babies and the year before that, 22.
As we climbed out of Kigali on to one of the ridges leading north-west to the Volcanoes National Park area I was surprised to see the lush, green landscape spreading out across the ridges and valleys way into the distance. This landscape contrasted dramatically with northern Botswana where I have just spent three weeks—where it is dry, dusty and sandy with sparse vegetation except along the rivers.
AWF looks at how its efforts mirror those of an organization launched to secure Africa's future.
The African continent is home to some of the world’s most amazing wildlife and natural wonders. Yet rural communities see little value in their wildlife neighbors, as growth in human population and changing climatic conditions place increasing strain on the continent’s natural resources.