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Food for thought…

There are a lot of problems around the world that I think could be solved with time being taken to understand and educate the people involved, things like poaching.  I think we need to look at the underlying causes to solve the problem and not just putting a band aid on the symptoms.

Yearly there are hundreds of kilometers of nylon fishing nets catching all species of fish found in our dams and rivers, put there by people who have very little and the need to feed themselves.  Why do they live in the area you ask?  The land they occupy might not be suitable for crop farming thus reducing them to stealing food in the form of fish or bush meat.  But surely if this was the case they would have moved out of the area generations ago to a more suitable area, what changes in the area have occurred in the last twenty or thirty years that has increased the poaching to dangerous levels?  Why do they feel that killing the surrounding game is their only source of food?  To find a solution, we have to look back and we may find for example, that they originally farmed cotton, or tobacco, which not being able to eat, they were able to sell it to provide them with income to buy food.  Why has that option fallen away, maybe the collapse of the industries needing those raw materials? The closure of the nearest cotton mill or tobacco floors making the transporting of the goods twice as far and thus unprofitable, for example?

Instead of trying to solve the poaching problem by confiscating fishing nets, or fining them with amounts that they don’t have, as a community we need to work together and address the problem at the root.  Find the poachers other ways of earning a living and feeding themselves, helping them get back on their feet with farming or ranching, providing them with the equipment to dig a borehole for example, so they have water with a long term repayment of debt option.  Finding a local transport company who has trucks that go into town empty, to allow them transport to their raw materials at a fair price.  I don’t think that communities benefits from hand outs, the only way we appreciate the things we have is if we have put our time and effort into earning them.   Nothing in this world is free, and it gives us all a feeling of self worth if we know that we have earned the place and the things that we have.  So yes help them with the equipment for digging a borehole, in return they pay a percentage towards the costs over time to repay the debt from the crops that they sell.  There needs to be more understanding of communities before things are handed out for free, a generation of people are created that expect help to fall from the sky, and who don’t help themselves earn an honest living.

Education needs to happen now, to show the children of this world how important our natural resources and wildlife are.  Be it the value of tourists visiting our national parks to see the wild life, or visiting our cities to support our local businesses, craft and trade.  There is more value in a elephant being photographed by 1000 tourists a year, than for a poacher to poison it with cyanide, and selling its ivory or tail, or skin or whichever is the latest ‘miracle cure’ decided upon by people who live far away.

This kind of education is harder as it goes against cultural belief of foreign people but if the communities surrounding national parks, conservation areas etc were shown and involved in the conserving of these areas they would then be less likely to want to destroy it.  They need to be given a reason to feel proud and protective of their country and its resources, and this can only be done when they are educated on how important, critical and beneficial they are to us all.

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