The black-market trade of rhinoceros horns
Please may we add the Chinese government’s complicity in this industry. Many have called out for them to erect more stringent laws policing where these rhino horns end up, but not much has been done. Yes a famous Chinese man, Yao Ming has been campaigning against rhino poaching which I think it’s great, but it’s far from enough.
This is not just an environmental issue. There was a time when those arrows originated from the west side of Africa to Europe and the Americas, carrying people who were ALSO considered a monetary commodity. No I’m not saying we are animals, but once again we have our resources simply stolen from us as we stand silent. If it’s not our people, it’s our animals and our LAND. That’s the issue: the world helps itself to Africa.
Many of us ignore this issue because in the past, our wildlife was given more preference to our people and that is very true. What has been missing from the conversation though is the past, present and future dynamics of interactions between our people and our wildlife/land. Most of these animals (especially the Big Five), live in enclosed reserves owned and run by white people. Actually, I think ALL of these game reserves are owned by white people. Sometimes ownership is by the government but they are largely run by white folks. How come? The answer to that lies in colonialism when large swaths of land were stolen from Africans for various reasons including making special destinations for white hunters to flex their guns on our wildlife.
With land stolen from them (I’m looking at you British colonizers in Kenya), the Africans surrounding these game reserves ended up with no land to farm and were forced to work on these reserves or later take part in the lucrative poaching business. HOWEVER, the poachers on foot (most of them African) hardly make the money the big boys make but have become the face of the bad man ruthlessly killing endangered animals without further investigation into why they came into this industry in the first place.
So what needs to happen for us Africans to stand up for our wildlife? We stand up for our people FIRST and that consequently means we protect our wildlife too. By protecting the land and borders, making sure all Africans (especially in rural or farming communities) are adequately compensated for their work, have the necessary resources such as hospitals, schools, land and political voice, we also create ownership. Tourism (specifically to see these animals) is big business in these East and Southern African countries but Africans do not benefit nearly as much as the white/Arabic land owners. (Google any safari expedition in South Africa for example and see who cleans the rooms but who owns the resorts.)
African governments, notably Mozambique, have actively started to address these imbalances which eventually force people into the poaching industry. This is the right path but much more has to be done. We must still protect our borders, hold these East Asian governments accountable for their limited action as well.
WE NEED TO BE THE FACE OF WILDLIFE PROTECTION. Not for anything but because this is the truth. Our resources are being stolen and this means we are not benefiting at all. We do not even benefit when these animals are safe and enjoyed by tourists.
The world has once again paid attention to African animals with more vigour than to our people and we should use this opportunity to illustrate the historical land inequalities that exist today, and how we must have a say in how our animals are treated. They belong to us.