I have just come across an excellent blog post from Malini Pittet. In it, she reviews a recent study which found that armed conflicts are having significant impacts on wildlife populations in the Sahara-Sahel region of Africa.
Malini’s synthesis is quite good, so I recommend you visit her site and read it there. Essentially, the breakdown in law enforcement and desperation that accompany armed conflicts are leading to severe declines in many large vertebrate species in the Sahara-Sahel. Overhunting is rife in the area: both as a source of food and to earn money through the illegal wildlife trade.
Malini also cites the increasing gap between the world’s rich and poor as a severe conservation concern. She writes:
The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing globally and is one of the key causes of social insecurities. Solutions that seek to improve the socioeconomic welfare and education of the poorer sections of society will automatically be addressing the issues that drive the loss of biodiversity, such [as] unsustainable bushmeat hunting. Such socioeconomic approached should also aim to offer alternative sources of income especially to young men for whom the only option appears to be to participate in the conflict as a source of employment.
Malini’s article, and the study it is based on, are another reminder that human and natural systems are intertwined. The way we conduct ourselves and organize our societies has an immense effect on the health of wildlife populations. Of course, the reverse is also true.
Do check out Malini’s site and give her blog post a read. It is quite enlightening!