Climate change a threat to tourism

Africa’s lead negotiator at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), David Lesolle, says that climate change poses a serious threat to the continent’s wildlife-based tourism.

Lamenting the robber-baron proclivities of western nations, Lesolle said that over centuries the latter have been depleting the continent’s resources like gold, oil and coal and that what is left forests - through which nations hope to diversify the national economy, is also under threat. Lesolle, whose full-time job is lecturer at the University of Botswana, made this statement when making a presentation at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance consultative workshop at Grand Palm Hotel on Monday. The workshop brought together environmental experts and activists from all over Africa.

Although there are deniers, there is science that has established that pest outbreaks, fires, drought and changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide can be a result of climate change. These impact negatively on the growth and productivity of forests. As a Sudan delegate stated, the entire vegetation that he saw down below along the flight path of his plane, right from his home country to the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, was yellow. This happens at a time that African countries - like Botswana, are generating money from wildlife-based tourism. This wildlife needs these forests that, according to the Sudan delegate, are turning yellow and becoming inhabitable for wild animals.

This situation brings about the human-wildlife conflict that a Zambian delegate said his country has begun experiencing. He stated that with conservation areas feeling the effects of climate change, wild animals like elephants are moving into villages to forage for food. In certain instances, those who kill these elephants incur the wrath of the law.

“We must now address these conservation laws that belong in the past. These laws were made when there was no climate change,” he said.
In response to this particular concern, Lesolle said that since “Europeans will never understand how elephants can be wrong”, Africans countries would have to come up with solutions that exclude killing these animals.

And indeed through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and against the wishes of some Southern African countries, the killing of elephants and ivory trade are strictly controlled.

“We are going to have to live with this wildlife,” Lesolle said.

The purpose of the workshop was  “to deepen and broaden common understanding, analysis and advocacies on climate change/Justice and equity as well as issues related to Rio +20 and Beyond 2015 Sustainable Development Framework among organisations and networks, developing, refining and reaching agreements on strategies, medium term objectives and plans as we move towards COP19 and beyond.”

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