Nature conservation projects marred by human rights violations

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Hoas, May 22, 2019.

  1. Hoas

    Hoas AH Fanatic

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    Source: https://www.dw.com/cda/en/nature-conservation-projects-marred-by-human-rights-violations/a-48765516

    Nature conservation projects marred by human rights violations

    Arrests, torture, murder: Is there a link between environmental protection organization WWF and brutal action taken by park rangers in Africa against civilians? Payments by Germany and the EU are also being scrutinized.

    "We are being persecuted and threatened," a woman of the Baka ethnic group in the Congo Basin region of central Africa told the human rights organization Survival International. The organization has been collecting similar testimonies for years and compiles critical reports about human rights violations against indigenous peoples in nature reserves or national parks. In recent years, the complaints of the Baka people have become louder and louder. The area where they live includes the forests of Messok Dja in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is currently asking the population what they think about the establishment of a new nature reserve here. This part of DRC has been declared a priority territory for the protection of great apes and is considered to be Africa's last elephant stronghold. The project is financed by European and German taxpayers.

    Bonus payments for arrests

    The project is hated by the local population. The Baka feel harassed by the gamekeepers in the future national park. They have lived in the forests of Messok Dja for generations. "I am Baka, my father is Baka, my mother is Baka. Our ancestors entrusted this forest to us. Our food comes from the forest. When we are sick, we go there and collect our medicine," says a Baka woman. One day her children should also look for food in the forest. But now the forest is out of bounds, she says. The Baka people have been deprived of their habitat.

    According to Survival International, more and more indigenous communities in Africa are becoming victims of an unscrupulous conservation industry. In recent years, the organization has repeatedly published photos, videos and testimonies of serious human rights violations by WWF-funded gamekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. The accusations range from arbitrary arrests to torture and even targeted killings.

    Read more here: https://www.dw.com/cda/en/nature-conservation-projects-marred-by-human-rights-violations/a-48765516
     
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  2. Jaws

    Jaws AH Senior Member

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    There's a little bit more to this than the typical one sided report from the media.
    Unfortunately I had first hand experience of the disregard for conservation/ preservation in the region. There would be nothing from the little that is remaining if it wasn't for the game rangers & few individuals that risk their & their family's lives to make a difference in an absurd messed up country.
     

  3. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    These are complex issues. I have hunted with the Baka people, and I have sen how they live.

    If you have lived in a forest for generations beyond recollection, and you have no desire to leave, but someone in a big city far away declares that you now live in a park and have to go, or at the very least, have to stop your traditional hunting and gathering activities because they have now been declared to be "poaching", what exactly would your response be? I know what mine would be, but then I'm better armed than the Baka.

    I have no doubt that were it not for illegal logging, and organized poaching by others not native to the forest in pursuit of a commercial bushmeat or ivory trade, the traditional Baka hunting practices - which yes, include the use of snares - would have minimal impacts on local wildlife populations.

    And as for ensuring the continued existence of animals, what right, exactly, do we as residents of developed countries, have to insist that certain parts of the world remain "wild" or free of humans, regardless of history, to suit our views of the conservation of nature? Should Africa be kept as a park so that the WWF and its supporters can feel they are doing something good for the "natural world"?

    Conservation requires working with, not against, those who are indigenous to the areas we seek to protect.
     
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  4. Jaws

    Jaws AH Senior Member

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    Hank, I'm glad you had the experience to hunt with the Baka people, it must have been extraordinary! I have lived in DRC for a good couple of years & understand the complexities, politics and cultures a little better than most.

    My guide / guard / lifeline, Evans, during my 8 years there was a Batwa & we spent quite a bit of time discussing politics, history & traditions. a lot of interesting views was shared.
    I'm also quite familiar with the discrimination against the Pygmies from other tribes.
    Wrt to generations of people wanting to remain in the forest perhaps sounds romantic to you, but is not entirely correct, majority of these people would prefer to move to the bigger cities & raise their kids in rather permanent houses, but safety (from other indigenous people), schooling, food security & employment is non existent, hence these people revert back to the known "survival" in the forest.

    My sympathy is really towards the local game wardens & staff trying to make a difference & maintain an honest job working as the "enemy"
    Do you blame them for being frustrated & resort to violence when they catch repeat offending poachers, (legally they can only detain them for a day & then have to let them go)?
    In return they & their families are attacked(yes even shot at, kidnaped etc) & shunned by their own in the villages where they also have to live.
    I'm sure you know that bush meat is a commodity for the Bayaka, Batwa & others to supply & sell to other tribes & villagers. Its not just hunting/gathering for survival anymore.

    Regardless, these countries require external intervention to improve & better peoples lives in order to alleviate the pressures on the natural resources that cannot sustain the ever growing population for ever. Their own governments are too corrupt to develop or drive any of it.
    So by no means do I say I support the entire view of the "WWF & its supporters" as you put it. But I do believe there is a need for more conservation areas that can be utilized & managed correctly. These reserves need funding, and whom so-ever is willing to invest in a country that is of no interest to the traditional heavyweights, is better than nothing imo.
    I have seen Chinese mines pop up within state reserves due to some clever legislation twists. Those areas are lost to locals due to mining activities & state involvement either way. Just about nothing is fed back to the country or the communities thanks to Government trade agreements (read corrupt debt & foreign loans) full tax & employment quota exoneration on top of these deals. a limited few officials gets their pockets lined.
    You decide which is the lesser of the two evils.

    So in summary, I agree these are complex issues. Strange politics & manipulation happen in the dark places of Africa, the problem is not as straight forward as this article is trying to make it out.
     

  5. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Can somebody explain this?
    What we know is that Botswana holds the biggest number of elephants in Africa today.
    Also, we know that real census of elephants in various central african forests under tree canopy is unknown, only estimated at the best?
    Why should it be then, "the last elephant stronghold"?
     

  6. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    Many indigenous groups around the world would love to keep their traditional way of life. Caught up in an ever changing world, with a surging population who's ravenous apatite for raw materials knows no bounds they may have to evolve too. As will we all. It is no one's fault.....it just is...FWB
     

  7. dory

    dory AH Fanatic

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    Well said Hank .
    Indigenous people are up in arms all over the world . I no longer wonder why . Its a worldwide problem i fell .
    The minority telling the majority how to live .
     

  8. Newboomer

    Newboomer GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I noticed that there is no mention of coexistence between the native people and the foreigners. It seems to be all or nothing; the foreigners want it all and the natives get nothing. I can understand the need to preserve the natural habitat and wildlife, but not at the total disregard of the natives. There has to be a way for both to work together as is being done in other African nations.
     

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