Today, are fertile and have reliable water resources

Today, less than one thousand wild mountain
gorillas remain in the wild, and lions are extinct regionally in seven African
countries according to the statistics measured by African Wildlife Foundation
(AWF) (1961). Africa is home to many wild animals; however, most of these
animals are facing significant decrease in population. The biggest threat to these
endangered animals is deforestation. Deforestation is caused by the increase in
human population because more and more lands are needed for agricultural and
industrial development, and people tend to prefer the same lands to settle as
wildlife because these lands are fertile and have reliable water resources (AWF,
1961; Ntshane & Gambiza, 2016, p. 242). Without these lands, wild animals
are unable to survive. The
African Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit public organization
founded in 1961, aims to protect land and habitat and empower communities in Africa. This paper will describe,
critique, and offer improvements for two solutions provided by AWF to protect land and habitat in Africa: creating
protected spaces for animal migration
and engaging communities in holistic land-use planning.

Creating protected areas

One of the solutions proposed by African Wildlife
Foundation is to create protected
areas for wildlife migration. The organization cooperates with the government
to conserve national parks and create protected areas adjacent to national parks for wild animals. In Tanzania, AWF
and the government worked on the project called Manyara Ranch Conservancy
together. This project allows wildlife to migrate between Lake Manyara
National Park and Tarangire National Park that are forty kilometers apart
(AWF, 1961). Projects like Manyara Ranch Conservancy allows AWF to work with the
government and are helpful to create wildlife corridors. Wildlife corridors are made up
of protected areas that allow wild animals to immigrate from one habitat to
another without interfering with human activities. The organization also works with individuals.
People who are willing to donate their
lands for habitat preservation can contact the organization, and then fill out
an environmental easement agreement provided by the organization. For example, in
Kenya, John Keen voluntarily signed an environmental easement agreement with
AWF so AWF can use Keen’s land for preservation purpose. Keen’s land increases the total area of the national park by 107
hectares (AWF, 1961). Working with individuals enables AWF to increase
the total areas of habitats and effectively alleviate the decrease in
wildlife population. Both methods add more
habitats for wild animals. Therefore, creating protected spaces for wildlife is
helpful to preserve land and habitat in Africa.

            The strength of this
solution is that the organization not only conserves national parks, but also
works on creating protected areas near national parks because wild animals are not limited only to
the national parks, while the weakness is that lands lack connectivity. As part of protected areas, tropical
rainforests reside more
than 60%
of all known species in Africa although rainforests cover only seven percent of land
surface (Tranquilli
et al., 2014, p.2). Likewise, 35% of all wildlife species are found in
all national protected areas. (Western, Russell, & Cuthill, 2009, p.5). Both
statistics prove that protected areas play a fundamental role in reducing
biodiversity loss because they
provide habitat and protection for various species. However, protected areas
lack landscape connectivity due to land
conversion. According to Riggio and Caro
(2017), wildlife is isolated and are unable to spread out because of lacking
connectivity (p. 2). Similarly, Goldman’s study (2009) also suggests that land
fragmentation contributes to biodiversity loss (p. 336). Protected spaces should be
all connected and located on wildlife corridors. Sometimes, there are several
lands adjacent to one national park, but they do not connect one national
park to another. It will be pointless to create many protected areas that are
unable to use as wildlife migration routes because more and more lands are
needed by people as human population increases. In general, this solution works
on creating protected areas, but protected areas lack connectivity.

To
make this solution more effective, AWF should identify wildlife migration
routes and assure connectivity between protected areas. In Imam, Kushwaha, and
Singh’s research (2009), satellite data was collected and
information gained from geographic information system (GIS) was analyzed in
order to identify wildlife migration
routes (p. 3623); similarly, in Riggio and Caro’s study (2017),
a landscape connectivity model was
created by using Linkage
Mapper, a tool designed to map and analyze connectivity
between protected areas (p.4-6). GIS helps AWF to identify protected spaces that
are not located on the routes, and Linkage Mapper enables AWF to check if
protected areas are all connected to form wildlife corridors. By
using both models, best protection for wildlife is provided, and least amount
of lands is used to achieve the best effect. In addition, AWF should validate wildlife migration routes every three years because wildlife might change their
routes due to environmental factors such as climate change. According to Riggio and Caro (2017), the
best way for verifying wildlife migration routes is to interview people living near wildlife corridors in order to get accurate
information (p.4). Likewise, study of Perre, Adriaensen, Songorwa,
and Leris (2014) suggests that conducting interviews among different villages
can confirm wildlife migration routes with the least cost. Both studies demonstrate that AWF can update information
about migration routes and adjust locations of protected areas in time by using
results from the interview. This prevents waste of land use since local
communities can reuse the lands for other purposes. Modifications like these to
current solution will greatly increase the effectiveness of creating protected
areas.

Engaging local
communities

Another
solution proposed by African Wildlife Foundation is to engage local communities in holistic land use
planning. AWF
helps local communities to
understand and determine how to use their lands in the future in order to best
promote the economy and sustain the land for longer time. For
instance, in the Congo Heartland, AWF and the local residents together
developed a land use map that provided a clear picture of where habitat
conservation
was taking place and where human activities were permitted
based on data from GIS (AWF, 1961). By helping local
residents to determine how lands should be used as a group
rather than individuals, conflicts over lands were minimized and lands were
able to maintain healthy for longer time periods. Thus, it is important for the
organization to cooperate with local communities to plan future use of lands. Moreover,
AWF promotes programs like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
(REDD+) (AWF, 1961). REDD+ allows local residents to earn income by “selling”
carbon absorbed by plants on their lands to people who release the carbon into
the air (Asare, Kyei, and Mason, 2013, p.2). Knowing that income can be earned
by simply leaving their lands alone, local residents are more willing to engage
in land use planning since they no longer need to worry about their
livelihoods. Therefore, it is important to engage local communities in land use
planning.

This solution enables the local communities to
engage in the process of habitat preservation instead of having the organization
do all the work, but not all local people are willing to
participate. In the study of Western, Russell, and Cuthill (2009), with
participation of local communities, about sixty-five
percent of wild animals in Kenya are supported by privately owned protected
areas (p.5). In addition, based on the research of Ogutu, Kuloba, Piepho, and Kanga (2017), among all
the wildlife in Kenya, about ninety-two percent of them reside in private lands
(p.23). From 2009 to 2017, the percentage of wildlife supported by private
lands has significantly increased by twenty-seven percent with community
participation. With community
engagement, the outcomes of habitat preservation can be magnified. Thus, it is beneficial
to engage local communities in land use planning and create strategies to
maintain both agricultural and infrastructural
goals. However, some people only focus on
their own interests in the short run and are not willing to support even though
they know the importance of wildlife habitat preservation. According to Pienaar, Jarvis, and Larson (2013), a
cause of lack of support from local communities is that protected lands can no
longer be used for agriculture, and wildlife ranging outside protected areas
destroys crops and livestock (p.315). Moreover, other than conflicts between
human and wildlife, lack of city development plans also leads to little support
from the communities (Irengbam, Dobriyal, Hussain, & Badola, 2017, p.1194).
Thus, it is not surprising that local communities are unwilling to engage in
habitat protection because wild animals threaten their crops and livestock, and
local communities are unable to plan their lands for future without knowing the
city development schemes. They will just use their lands in the ways that can
benefit themselves in the short run. Although the solution involves communities
in habitat protection, it lacks support from local people.

            To improve this solution, AWF should
promote programmes like Community
Based Natural Resource
Management (CBNRM) to motivate local communities to protect
wildlife habitats (Pienaar, Jarvis, and Larson, 2013, p.315). CBNRM is based on the
Nature Conservation Amendment Act of 1996. This act puts local people
into the leadership position (Mufune, 2015, p.123). In this
way, local people can determine how they want to manage wildlife and natural
resources. It helps to reduce conflicts between local residents and wildlife. CBNRM also contributes to reduce poverty in
rural areas by providing rural residents with nine different types of conservation
jobs to choose based on residents’ interests (Pienaar, Jarvis, and Larson,
2013, p.320). Based on statistics
in Mufune’s study (2015), this programme has produced 1,512 permanent and
11,223 part-time jobs in 2011. It enables local residents to generate income
while conserving wildlife habitats. With stable income, local residents are
more likely to be willing to plan how to use their lands in the future. Programmes
like CBNRM encourage local
communities to engage in habitat preservation. Therefore, the solution should
be modified in order to better engage local communities in land and habitat
protection in Africa.

Conclusion

            AWF
describes two solutions to preserve land and habitat in Africa: creating
protected spaces for animal migration
and engaging communities in land use planning. Critiques on both solutions
and improvements need to be made was presented in this paper. It is helpful and
necessary for AWF to cooperate with local communities. It can be beneficial to
both local communities and the organization since both sides’ needs are met:
local communities have a source to earn income and the organization can achieve
its preservation purpose. By making these improvements, better effects on habitat
preservation can be accomplished. Other than the efforts made by organizations
like AWF and local communities, the general public should also pay more
attention to the issue of lacking wildlife habitats in Africa. Although a
majority of people are not able to be involved in solving this problem
physically, they can donate money to support organizations’ projects. It is
time for people to engage in habitat protection because wild animals and people
live in the same space.