As Africa’s development agenda shifts, so do the threats facing African wildlife and wild lands. Commercial and small-scale agriculture underpins many economies, but this growing sector is also responsible for the conversion of wildlife dispersal zones and migratory corridors. Meanwhile, extractive industries and large-scale infrastructure developments are spreading across the continent. Addressing ecosystem degradation and habitat fragmentation is now the mandate of conservationists, national governments, and policymakers.
Natural resources abound in Southern Tanzania’s Mngeta Corridor and Udzungwa-Magombera-Selous landscapes, located within the Kilombero Cluster. With a stretch of mountains that harbors major water catchments for many rivers, a dense forest cover both on reserve and community land, and rich biodiversity, the Kilombero Cluster is a vitally important biological area where natural resources and wildlife vie for space in the midst of growing agricultural productivity.
For a cheetah to end up as a pet in the palatial home of an elite Emirati, it must endure a harrowing journey. From the moment it is captured as a cub, it moves between borders and across oceans along a lucrative chain of illegal traffickers and smugglers. As it moves up the chain, its price rises but its chances of survival diminish. Similarly, baby chimpanzees from tropical forests in West and Central Africa are sometimes drugged and stuffed into boxes for weeks, only to spend the rest of their lives in cages thousands of miles away. Many would-be exotic pets die in transit due to a combination of poor transport conditions, inadequate hygiene and nutrition, as well as shock and injury.
In May 2015, Damas Patrick Mbaga came on board as African Wildlife Foundation’s first hydrologist. Stationed in Mbeya, Tanzania, he spent the next few years teaching local communities how to better manage their water sources in one of the main sub-catchments supplying water for the Great Ruaha River, which flows downstream through Ruaha National Park. Mbaga is still based in in the rapidly changing wildlife-rich landscape of Southern Tanzania, overseeing community-led river monitoring initiatives within Kilombero’s Rufiji Basin as part of AWF’s work with the IUCN Sustainability and Inclusion Strategy for Growth Corridors in Africa (or SUSTAIN-Africa) program.
In the past few years, we have seen a big movement toward domestic bans for ivory and rhino horn from major consumer countries, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. However, other countries are lagging behind — in Laos and Japan, ivory is traded openly as a luxury commodity in markets and even online. In New Zealand, carved ivory fetches high prices at auction houses and antique shops, and many items are re-exported under lax regulations and could re-enter the market, fueling demand. African Wildlife Foundation CEO Kaddu Sebunya explains why these countries need to ban the domestic trade of ivory before it is too late for Africa’s elephants.