Africa's wars threaten 70% of its protected areas

Africa's wars threaten 70% of its protected areas

Armed conflicts seriously affect the survival of the large mammals that inhabit Africa. A study published in the journal Nature has corroborated this: the impact of these wars on the African continent from 1945 to 2010, has affected more than 70% of the national parks.

Thewars in Africa they outnumber any other human activity such as mining, illegal urbanization and illegal animal trafficking. The most affected populations are those of large herbivores such as hippos, giraffes, buffaloes or antelopes.

Two years after Mozambique's war of independence, the country suffered a civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992. More than 900,000 people were killed in the clashes and another five million were displaced. But the conflict also affected wildlife: 90% of the large mammals in Gorongosa National Park were killed.

Resilience of territories

The war ended in 1992 and 20 years later, more than 80% of the fauna had recovered.

The authors of the study, Joshua Daskin of Princeton University and Robert Pringle, of Yale University, highlight as encouraging data that the same populations did not go extinct - with few exceptions - and that in many cases they have been reborn, sometimes with great quickly, when conditions have returned to normal.

Daskin comments: "Even the most severely affected protected areas are promising candidates for conservation efforts" "... we found relatively few complete extinctions, suggesting that post-conflict regions may provide great potential for restoration initiatives."

The recovery of the fauna of the Gorongsa National Park in Mozambique, on the verge of extinction in the 1990s, is the best example.

"The few remaining wild animals were allowed to breed under the surveillance of rangers conducting anti-poaching patrols, but also in conjunction with human development programs," Daskin reports.

“Gorongosa takes hundreds of school children to the park on educational wildlife safaris, provides agricultural assistance to nearby farmers, and runs medical programs. We would love to see more parks managed alongside human development aid ”, he concludes.

The exception: wars that benefit wildlife

Although wars are generally devastating for wildlife, since animals serve as food and their habitats are destroyed, some conflicts can have the opposite effect and prevent humans from entering protected areas, as they are considered too dangerous.

The displacement of settlers also affects the lower consumption of resources and, above all, the reduction of industrial activities in those conflict territories. "Commercial logging and mining decline when companies shut down operations in conflict zones and trade routes where bushmeat is sold may also be banned," the scientists note.

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