African wildlife parks face climate, infrastructure threats

Aug 11, 2022, 2:06 AM | Updated: Aug 12, 2022, 1:04 am
FILE — A herd of elephants make their way through the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, in search o...

FILE — A herd of elephants make their way through the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, in search of water on Nov. 10, 2019. Africa's national parks, home to thousands of wildlife species such as lions, elephants and buffaloes, are increasingly threatened by below-average rainfall and new infrastructure projects, stressing habitats and the species that rely on them. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — Africa’s national parks, home to thousands of wildlife species such as lions, elephants and buffaloes, are increasingly threatened by below-average rainfall and new infrastructure projects.

A prolonged drought in much of the continent’s east, exacerbated by climate change, and large-scale developments, including oil drilling and livestock grazing, are hampering conservation efforts in protected areas, several environmental experts say.

The at-risk parks stretch all the way from Kenya in the east — home to Tsavo and Nairobi national parks — south to the Mkomazi and Serengeti parks in Tanzania, the Quirimbas and Gorongosa parks in Mozambique and the famous Kruger National Park in South Africa, and west to the Kahuzi Biega, Salonga and Virunga reserves in Congo.

The parks not only protect flora and fauna but also act as natural carbon sinks — storing carbon dioxide emitted into the air and reducing the effects of global warming.

An estimated 38% of Africa’s biodiversity areas are under severe threat from climate change and infrastructure development, said Ken Mwathe of BirdLife International.

“Key biodiversity areas over the years, especially in Africa, have been regarded by investors as idle and ready for development,” said Mwathe. “Governments allocate land in these areas for infrastructural development.”

He added that the “powerlines and other energy infrastructure cause collisions with birds, due to low visibility. The numbers killed this way are not few.”

In their quest to bolster living standards and achieve sustainable development goals, such as access to clean water and food, boosting jobs and economic growth and improving the quality of education, African governments have set their sights on large building projects, many of them funded by foreign investments, especially by China.

The proposed East African Oil Pipeline, for example, which the Ugandan government says can help lift millions out of poverty, runs through Uganda’s Kidepo valley, Murchison Falls and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, threatening species and drawing criticism from climate campaigners.

The growth of urban populations and the building that goes with it, like new roads, electricity grids, gas pipes, ports and railways, have also added to the pressure on parks, conservationists said.

But they add that replacing wildlife with infrastructure is the wrong approach for economic growth.

“We have to have a future where wildlife is not separated from people,” said Sam Shaba, the program manager at the Honeyguide Foundation in Tanzania, an environmental non-profit organization.

When “people start to see that living with wildlife provides the answer to sustainable development … that’s the game-changer,” said Shaba.

Most of Africa’s wildlife parks were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by colonial regimes that fenced off the areas and ordered local people to stay out. But now conservationists are finding that a more inclusive approach to running the parks and seeking the expertise of Indigenous communities that live around the parks can help protect them, said Ademola Ajagbe, Africa regional managing director of The Nature Conservancy.

“The inhabitants of these areas are forcefully evicted or prevented from living there such as the Maasai (in Tanzania and Kenya), Twa and Mbutis (in central Africa) who for generations have lived with wildlife,” said Simon Counseill, an advisor with Survival International.

“Africa is depicted as a place of wildlife without people living there and this narrative needs to change,” he said.

“If we don’t pay attention to communities’ social needs, health, education and where they are getting water, we miss the key thing,” said John Kasaona the executive director of the Integrated Rural Development in Nature Conservation in Namibia.

The effects of worsening weather conditions in national parks due to climate change should also not be ignored, experts said.

A recent study conducted in Kruger National Park linked extreme weather events to the loss of plants and animals, unable cope with the drastic conditions and lack of water due to longer dry spells and hotter temperatures.

Drought has seriously threatened species like rhinos, elephants and lions as it reduces the amount of food available, said Philip Wandera, a former warden with the Kenya Wildlife Service who’s now range management lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa.

More intensive management of parks and removing fences that prevent species from migrating to less drought-prone areas are important first steps to protecting wildlife, Wandera said.

He added that financial help to “support communities in and around national parks” would also help preserve them.

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Alice Pujols goes through someone else's discarded items for clothes and shoes for her family Monda...
Associated Press

In Ian’s wake, Florida residents brave a slow wait for power

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian smashed into Florida and carved a path of destruction that reached into the Carolinas, more than half a million statewide residents faced another day without electricity Tuesday as rescuers continued their search for those trapped inside homes inundated with lingering floodwaters. At least 78 […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on...
Associated Press

Kelly, Hobbs face different prospects in crucial Ariz. races

PHOENIX (AP) — A year ago, Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs was all over cable news, building a national profile as a defender of democracy and raking in cash for her campaign for governor. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, newly elected to finish the late John McCain’s last term and running for reelection, looked […]
22 hours ago
FILE - The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 14, 2022. The Supreme Court op...
Associated Press

Supreme Court takes up key voting rights case from Alabama

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up an Alabama redistricting case that could have far-reaching effects on minority voting power across the United States. The justices are hearing arguments Tuesday in the latest high-court showdown over the federal Voting Rights Act, lawsuits seeking to force Alabama to create a second Black majority congressional […]
22 hours ago
FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022. The satirical site The...
Associated Press

The Onion and the Supreme Court. Not a parody

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Onion has some serious things to say in defense of parody. The satirical site that manages to persuade people to believe the absurd has filed a Supreme Court brief in support of a man who was arrested and prosecuted for making fun of police on social media. “As the globe’s premier […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: October 4, Soviets launch Sputnik

Today in History Today is Tuesday, Oct. 4, the 277th day of 2022. There are 88 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 4, 1957, the Space Age began as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, into orbit. On this date: In 1777, Gen. George Washington’s troops […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Herschel Walker, GOP candidate for the US Senate for Georgia, speaks at a primary watch part...
Associated Press

Herschel Walker paid for girlfriend’s abortion, report says

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009, according to a new report published late Monday. The candidate called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and said he would sue. The Daily Beast spoke […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
African wildlife parks face climate, infrastructure threats