The Express News has learnt exclusively of the results of a just completed survey that reveals that the American publicfavors a policy letting African countries make their own decisions on wildlife matters. This is according to a July 2018 survey.
The survey data clearly indicate that a large portion of the US population does not want US entities to use their power and influence to dictate how African countries deal with wildlife management issues. This result is in stark contrast to the current approach of major Western animal rights groups, according to the Ivory Education Institute (IEI), the sponsor of the survey. “These organisations have repeatedly stated that concerted international effortis needed to impose Western wildlife ideas on African range states to protect wildlife from extinction,” said Godfrey Harris, the Managing Director of IEI.
Only 8.5 percent of the random sample in the American survey believes that Western organisations should attempt to advance their Africa’s wildlife agenda.
More than two-thirds of Americans (69.5%) believe that “African nations should work together to make informed decisions about people and wildlife sharing land” on the continent. Interestingly, almost 39.5% of Americans say that their Government “should continue providing funding to save Africa’s wildlife” in areas where wildlife over-population is a major problem. American citizens would like their tax dollars to be devoted to either the sale of crowded species “to zoos or nature parks” (44.4%) or the purchase of “private lands on the borders of national parks (45.8%).”
Elsewhere, 33.7% of survey participants said the “professionally-guided hunts” as well as “private for-profit ranching” of elephants (32.5%) were both sound ways to manage the problem of elephant over-population.
These survey findings come at a time when Africans are increasingly complaining that Western influence is negatively affecting their socioeconomic wellbeing and their efforts to save elephants.
IEI conducted thepublic opinion survey in order to try to determine whatAmerican citizens think about Western attempts to influence African wildlife policies. This is the first known effort to scientifically measure the feelings of American adults towards Western wildlife policy options in Africa.
The IEI survey revealed that about 15% of American citizens said that they “own something fashioned from or with ivory, bone or horn.”
“That suggests that about 50 million Americans — a huge number of taxpayers and voters — have a financial stake in whether all types of trade in any kind of ivory is banned for all time,” said Harris. “Almost half (46.5%) of American citizens said they are opposed to a blanket ban on all products made from ivory.” Less than 28.9% of Americans support the ban on all ivory products while 24.5% are not yet sure how they feel about a ban.
“Our overall impression from the survey is that its information provides the IEI and other entities with a lot of new data to use in their continuing effort to improve the world’s understanding of the practical, decorative and cultural importance of ivory to the past as well as to the future,” said Mr Harris.
Citing other findings of the Survey, the IEI Managing Director, Mr Godfrey Harris, said: “A large number of Americans(45%) do notsupport the United States’unilateral intervention to protect wild animals in Africa at all costs.”Another 38.6% believe that the USA should worktogether with the United Nations (CITES), in order determine how African nations should manage their wildlife resources.
The IEI plans to conduct a second survey focusing on the sharing of land between wildlife in national parks and the rural communities that border national parks and game reserves. This follows the findings thatthe American citizens surprisingly, do not have much understanding of the plight of human beings living in areas where there is a wildlife over-crowding problem that in turn results in increased human-wildlife conflict, posing a threat to the wellbeing of both humans and wildlife.
“This is an areain which Americans are not knowledgeable,and which could have a major bearing on future American wildlife policy in Africa,” said Mr Harris.
By Emmanuel Koro
About the writer: Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.
The Express News