This House would, as an African government, implement tougher protections for animals

Africa’s large animals are well documented in history. Elephants were a source of great fear in the ancient African armies and they became a source of fascination for Europeans. When they began to explore and colonise the continent, the hides, horns, tusks and pelts of Africa’s wildlife became valuable trophies.[1]

Unfortunately, hunting and destruction of their environments has led to the extinction of many species, such as the Quagga and the Western black rhinoceros, and has left others critically endangered. There are over 350 critically endangered species in Africa, including African elephants, lions and rhinoceroses. To ensure the survival of these animals, nature reserves were established as early as 1898. With a focus on conservation, it became illegal to hunt or destroy the environment of the endangered species which lived on the reserve.[2] Hunting of these animals was officially recognised as ‘poaching’, making it a punishable activity.

 Since the beginning of the 21st century however, the numbers of these animals has nosedived. Tanzania’s elephant population has decreased from 109,419 elephants in 1976 to 13,084 in 2014.[3] This has led to increased calls for a tougher approach towards the protection of endangered animals. This mainly suggests a militarised response, but can also include higher levels of passive protection (fencing areas off) and increased punishment in the justice system.  Whether or not a tougher approach will work has become an issue of contention, illustrated by the responses to Tanzanian minister Khamis Kagaski’s call to execute poachers “on the spot”.[4]

[1] Duder,C.J. ‘Black Poachers, White hunters: A social History of Hunting in Colonial Kenya by Edward I. Steinhart’ pg.637

[2] Wikipedia, ‘Nature Reserve’

[3] The Times of India, ‘Tanzania’s elephant population down two-thirds since 1976’

[4] Smith, D. ‘Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges’

 

Title 
Natural habitats being are destroyed
Point 

A tougher approach to the protection of animals is needed to prevent their natural habitats from being destroyed by locals. As humans expand their agricultural activity in Africa they are destroying the environments of endangered animals and pushing others towards being endangered. Due to an increase in large scale cotton plantations and food crops, the West African lion has seen a marked decrease in population; numbering less than 400 in early 2014[1]. Tougher protection, such as fencing off areas from human activity, has been suggested and has seen success in South Africa[2].

[1] BBC, “Lions ‘facing extinction in West Africa’”

[2] Morelle,R. “Fencing off wild lions from humans ‘could save them’”

Counterpoint 

Human development is of great importance to the African continent, arguably more so than conserving endangered animals. In 2010 it was estimated that there are 239 million sub-Saharan Africans living in poverty.[1]  Poverty can be the cause of a wide array of political, security and socio-economic issues. Possible sources of income, such as cotton plantations and food crops, should therefore be embraced as they will have a more positive impact on the region than the survival of endangered species.

[1] World Hunger, ‘Africa Hunger and Poverty Facts’

Title 
Poaching is becoming more advanced
Point 

A stronger, militarised approach is needed as poaching is becoming far more advanced. Poachers now operate with high-calibre rifles, night vision scopes, silencers and use helicopters to hunt their prey.[1]  These methods are used particularly against rhinoceroses in South Africa, whose horns have become extremely valuable on the Asian market for their supposed medical properties.[2]  In response to this, South African rangers are being given specialised training and use their own aerial surveillance to track poachers down with success,[3] supporting the argument for a militarised response to protect endangered animals.

[1] WWF, ‘African rhino poaching crisis’

[2] Zapwing, ‘The Rhino Poaching Crisis’

[3] ibid

Counterpoint 

Tougher protection of Africa’s nature reserves will only result in more bloodshed.  Every time the military upgrade their weaponry, tactics and logistic, the poachers improve their own methods to counter them. In the past decade, over 1,000 rangers have been killed whilst protecting Africa’s endangered wildlife.[1] Every time one side advances its position the other side matches it. When armed military patrols were sent out, poachers switched their tactics so every hunter has several ‘guards’ to combat the military. The lack of an advantageous position in the arms race has ensured that the poaching war is yet to be won.[2]

[1] Smith, D. ‘Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges’

[2] Welz, A. ‘The War on African Poaching: Is Militarization Fated to Fail?’

Title 
Endangered animals are a source of pride for African countries
Point 

Endangered animals warrant a tougher degree of protection in Africa as they have notable cultural significance. Some groups believe that African elephants have mystic powers attached to them and have coveted them for centuries.[1] African lions have been depicted on the coat of arms for states and institutions both past and present.[2] They are intrinsically linked with Africa’s past and its identity. The extinction of these animals, therefore, would have a negative cultural impact and should be prevented.

[1] University of California, Los Angeles, ‘Elephant: The Animal and its Ivory in African Culture’

[2] Coleman, Q. ‘The importance of African lions’

Counterpoint 

Not all endangered animals have such cultural significance within Africa. Pangolins are armoured mammals which are native to Africa and Asia. Like rhinoceros, pangolins are endangered due to their demand in East Asia. They are relatively unknown however, and therefore have little cultural significance.[1] This is the case for many of Africa’s lesser known endangered species. Any extension of protection for endangered animals based on their cultural significance would be unlikely to save many of these species.

[1] Conniff, R. ‘Poaching Pangolins: An Obscure Creature Faces Uncertain Future’

Title 
Poaching is linked to terrorism
Point 

Stronger protection of animals should be implemented to reduce the funding for terrorist groups. Certain terrorist organisations use the illegal ivory and horn trade as funding for their operations. Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the Sudanese Janjaweed all use the illicit trade as a source of income, with the former using the trade for 40% of its expenditure.[1] This enables them to carry out attacks such as the 2013 Westgate siege in Kenya.[2] Tougher protection of endangered animals would reduce the ability of these groups to fund themselves. In turn, this would decrease their operational capability, increasing stability in Africa.

[1] Stewart, C. ‘Illegal ivory trade funds al-shabaab’s terrorist attacks’

[2] Tackett,C. ‘How elephant poaching helped fund Kenya terrorist attack’

Counterpoint 

Linking animal endangerment and poaching to terrorism as a justification for action unnecessarily securitises the issue. This will only serve to create a situation where state actors can use poaching as an excuse to exploit threats. As with the war on drugs and the war on terror, this power is apportioned to actors who are then capable of abusing it for the sake of national security.[1]

[1] Crick,E. ‘Drugs as an existential threat: An analysis of the international securitization of drugs’

Title 
The justice system does not currently work
Point 

A major failing in current anti-poaching operations is that the poachers are rarely prosecuted. African legal systems rarely prioritise poaching as a serious crime, with offenders usually receiving trivial fines1. One of the major reasons for the Western black rhinoceros’ extinction in 2011 was the complete lack of sentencing for any of the poachers who were captured.[1] The system also fails to prosecute the brains behind many of the operations due to poor investigative methods. This creates an impression in the minds of the poachers that they can operate with impunity.[2]

[1] Mathur, A. ‘Western Black Rhino Poached Out of Existence; Declared Extinct, Slack Anti-Poaching Efforts Responsible’

[2] Welz, A. ‘The War on African Poaching: Is Militarization Fated to Fail?’

Counterpoint 

Deterrents in the criminal justice system have not worked in similar cases. The US drug war, which identified a specific activity and made it a matter of national security, has resulted in harsh sentences for those who deal or smuggle illicit substances. Despite these harsh punishments however, there has been little success in defeating the drug business as the profit margin for the trade is too high.[1] With Ivory and other products for which poachers are hunting the same will happen; if some poachers are put up the prices will simply go up encouraging others. Tougher protection of animals through increased conviction rates and extended terms is likely to fail.

[1] BBC, “Global war on drugs ‘has failed’ says former leaders’

Title 
African countries have little money to spare
Point 

Africa has some of the least developed countries in the world, making extensive protection of endangered animals unviable.  Many African countries are burdened by the more pressing issues of civil war, large debts, poverty, and economic underdevelopment.[1] These factors already draw significant amounts of money from limited budgets. Tanzania, for example, has revenue of $5.571 billion and an expenditure of $6.706 billion.[2] Increased expenditure on animal protection projects would only serve to worsen this budget deficit. 

[1] Simensen, J. ‘Africa: the causes of under-development and the challenges of globalisation’

[2] The World Factbook ‘Tanzania’

Counterpoint 

There are numerous sponsors who contribute towards animal protection schemes, reducing the government’s burden. Private wildlife custodians spend significant sums of money ensuring they are fully equipped to deal with poachers. There are also private donors and interest groups such as World Wildlife Federation (WWF) who supply funding for the governments’ conservation efforts.[1]   This financial support has made projects such as the increased military presence in South Africa’s game parks possible.

[1] Welz, A. ‘The War on African Poaching: Is Militarization Fated to Fail?’

Title 
Fewer human deaths
Point 

Fewer large beasts will lead to fewer deaths in Africa. Some endangered animals are aggressive and will attack humans. Hippopotamuses kill in excess of three hundred humans a year in Africa, with other animals such as the elephant and lion also causing many fatalities.[1]  Footage released in early 2014 of a bull elephant attacking a tourist’s car in Kruger National Park, South Africa demonstrated the continued threat these animals cause.[2] Tougher protection would result in higher numbers of these animals which increases the risk to human lives. 

[1] Animal Danger ‘Most Dangerous Animals’

[2] Withnall, A. ‘Rampaging bull elephant flips over British tourist car in Kruger Park’

Counterpoint 

Most of these human deaths are caused by humans invading the territory of the animals at hand. Even giraffes, usually considered peaceful animals, will attack if they feel that humans are too close. Generally, it is the human’s responsibility rather than the animal’s. Increased protection may save more lives as methods such as fencing will forcibly separate humans from animals and decrease the chances of the two coming in to contact.[1]

[1] Morelle, R. “Fencing off wild lions from humans ‘could save them’”

Title 
Legalising the trade of horns, ivory, furs and pelts would be more effective
Point 

Making it legal for hunters to kill these endangered animals, rather than protecting them, could prevent extinction. The protected status of endangered animals has made their pelts, horns and tusks more expensive as they are harder to obtain.[1] The current illegality of trading rhino horns has constrained supply in comparison to demand in Asia. This has driven the price of the horn to around £84,000. Softening protection for endangered animals could, in theory, reduce the price to a point where it is no longer profitable to hunt these endangered animals.[2] This would potentially increase supply by freeing up that seized by governments which is currently destroyed, and could potentially involve farming as South Africa is considering with Rhino horn.[3]

[1] Welz, A. ‘The War on African Poaching: Is Militarization Fated to Fail?’

[2] Player, I. & Fourie, A. ‘How to win the war against poachers’

[3] Molewa, E., ‘Statement on Rhino poaching intervention’

Counterpoint 

There is no guarantee that legalising the trade would satisfy demand in East Asia.[1] Nor is there any substantial evidence to suggest that prices would drop to the point where hunters could no longer sustain themselves. If neither of these factors transpires then there is a strong likelihood that endangered animals would be hunted to extinction.

[1] Player, I. & Fourie, A. ‘How to win the war against poachers’

Title 
Heavy handed approaches do not solve the motivations for poaching
Point 

Creating tougher responses to poaching will not deter poachers as they fail to recognise the motivations for illegal hunting. Many hunters, especially those who aren’t native to Africa, take part in poaching as there is a thrill in the illegal status.[1] The close calls, challenges and sense of independence will all be multiplied by increased protection on the game reserves.

Then there are those who take part out of necessity. Poachers will often be able to make $50-100 per kilogram for a rhinoceros’ horn[2] and the bush meat from kills can be a necessary source of nutrition.[3] Poaching creates opportunities for Africans which are usually unavailable in licit work. Tougher protection of animals fails to provide an alternative livelihood for these poachers.  

[1] Forsyth, C. & Marckese, T. ‘Thrills and skills: a sociological analysis of poaching’ pg.162

[2] Stewart, C. ‘Illegal ivory trade funds al-shabaab’s terrorist attacks’

[3] BBC, “Lions ‘facing extinction in West Africa’”

Counterpoint 

If tough approaches to conservation did not exist then the situation would be far worse.[1] The lack of legislation and an armed response to the poaching threat has led to the extinction of many species, such as the Western black rhinoceros.[2] Without the boots on the ground then poaching would most likely expand due to the lack of deterrent which armed guards cause.

[1] Welz, A. ‘The War on African Poaching: Is Militarization Fated to Fail?’

[2] Mathur, A. ‘Western Black Rhino Poached Out of Existence; Declared Extinct, Slack Anti-Poaching Efforts Responsible’ 

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