There was also concern with management of natural resources as a whole, but lack of commitment on suppression of poaching and killing of elephants on an ‘industrial’ scale was the clincher to the ban. Other southern African states were included in the ban, even where their other relations with the US or the West as a whole are excellent, a good example being the case of Botswana.

What local stakeholders are now hoping for is the sorting out of the hunting safaris and export ban, which started with the problem with the US market and applied on a wider scale, putting in peril investments in the wildlife sector, like breeding insects and collecting irrelevant animal species for export. Some of the species collected are ordinarily a nuisance to farmers and other land use stakeholders, and constitute little or nothing in expectations at the local level of how they could otherwise be used as natural resources. It was thus a case of killing off a source of income for a whole range of individuals, without apparently serving the interests of any alternative group, or even the state.

A salutary example of what stakeholders are demanding and definitely it is within actual policy and indeed common sense, is the situation in crocodile hunting, which is treated as a commercially useful product, and at the public level crocodiles are little more than a nuisance. But there is a generalized view of wildlife management that can be said to be rather colonial in character, not because it arises from the colonial period per se but constitutes in juxtaposing the people and the government in relation to wildlife resources. A wildlife official has to ask topmost authorities if any animal in the country can be killed for any reason; most crocodiles aren’t even in restricted areas like game parks.

While it is possible to suggest that stakeholders take up crocodile farming more extensively to control their own source of income, there is evidence from most regions where substantial rivers are found that crocodiles are a major public nuisance and scarcely a tourist attraction. Crocodiles aren’t among the usual safari pullers like lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, buffalo or the migration of wildebeest and zebras to greener pastures, twice annually and are more a part of environmental pressures like baboons or wild pigs. It is thus unnecessary to think twice or thrice at the level of policy as to whether crocodiles ought to be hunted, as the issue there seems to be who owns the animal’s skin, etc.

A certain amount of liberalism is needed in relaxing controls not just on tourist hunting especially with the US market being open to our exports, such that policy is predictable in the sector, and local people become stakeholders as well. Many localities have suffered from ravages arising from crocodile attack, and if they can as well make use of the animal’s products like meat or skin, it shouldn’t trouble policy makers. If any additional safeguards in relation to culling or exploitation of that resource as a whole, they should be communicated to district level for supervision. This way controls will be relaxed for wildlife exporters as a whole, the crocodile nuisance being reduced to the past.

Climate change indicators globally appear to be intensifying by the day

CLIMATE change is a topic that does not appear to be coming to a conclusion anytime soon, partly because the data and its interpretation is always an ongoing issue, with changes in ordinary temperature and character of ocean-based disturbances like typhoons, tornadoes and hurricanes. Mozambique for instance suffered two catastrophic storms within a month of one another and in one rainy season, while it often suffered such calamities once in five years, or perhaps a decade. It is clear that predictions on what comes next are difficult to make, crippling policy projection as the public authorities aren’t sure where to stand when laying out climate change intervention strategies for instance.

In the United States for example there is a change in thinking among Conservative climate change skeptics, who had for years backed indifference to taking climate change battling initiatives, only focusing on wider technological advancements as the most important response to whatever threat exists in that sphere. Now that attitude is changing as the scale of climate change induced catastrophic events has been taking sharper and more profound characteristics since Hurricane Katrina during summer 2005, an event that started to soften the US stand on climate change. In Africa the usual blame game and pursuit of more aid related to climate change is changing, to concrete initiatives.

In Tanzania for instance many districts are prohibiting the felling of trees for charcoal, but concrete movement in this direction is hampered by traditionalism of a series of stakeholders, for instance wishing to propagate unstable alternative stoves made of clay which need to be constantly replaced. Kenya took the more audacious step of making gas cylinders free of charge and reimbursing the money through slight increases in price as the government knows it has to spend to weaning people from charcoal dependency, not just rely on the market. We need the same measure locally and production of small cylinders that can be filled at 10,000/- to enable most families routinely refill them.

There is another reason while a total ban on the felling of trees even for furniture making purposes could make sense, thus adopting hard plastics for furnishing that ordinarily requires wood, and procuring such wood from private plantations which in that sense produce wood from farmland, not forests. It is the fact that the final solution to climate change threats is broader reforestation of dry lands around the world, and especially deserts.. Since the issue is absorption of carbon monoxide, methane and similar gases, stopping or reducing their production isn’t a feasible solution as it clashes with aspirations of industrialization, hence reforestation makes better sense as way out.

In that context there is still plenty to do take the world away from lengthy debates on who produces more gases and ought to pay more funds to some global fund for climate change interventions which critics will say channels vast funds into unworkable projects or through non-transparent methods, etc. The focus will helpfully be directed at how much each country can put more land under tree cover, and even a global plan with a difference – not to eliminate production of greenhouse gases but set a date for greening of deserts say by 50 per cent by 2050. As the wise of old said, “it can be done if you play your part,” at the national level, regional cooperation and finally global institutions.