Africa Today 48.4 (2001) 128-129
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An old German proverb holds that there are two sides to every pancake. With all the publicity about endangered species, with horrifying shots of mutilated elephants or rhinos, killed for their tusks or horns, one necessarily remembers that Africans have to live with these beasts and that for some villagers subsistence poaching makes all the difference between a full stomach and hunger. Furthermore, while the rhino is endangered in Zimbabwe, elephants are not: one count holds that Zimbabwe has 80,000 of the beasts and that the fat fees charged for hunting them are a major source of income for the districts and villages.
Based on her work in Zimbabwe that led to her doctoral thesis, Duffy has thoughtfully provided a substantial bibliography as well as the essential list of abbreviations. While the book attempts to list all sides of the controversy about hunting and the killing of animals, it is primarily realistic. This reviewer recalls as a child his farmer father essentially ignoring the game laws in the Midwest during the depression in order to put meat on the table: "They feed on my farm, so how does the state have the right to tell me I am not to eat them?" [End Page 128]
Thus, any policy on conservation in a country such as Zimbabwe has to take into account that villagers will do some poaching. The policy that has developed as Duffy explains it is the "Campfire" (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) plan. Roughly, the plan provides for villages adjacent to game-rich areas to share in the income from that area. Culling, when called for by drought or a decline in the number of predators, produces meat for local consumption. Tourist facilities for photo safaris or hunting parties produce profits shared by the villagers. Such facilities provide employment for locals and earn the country foreign exchange. Basically, the philosophy of this would be familiar to American conservationists of the last century such as Theodore Roosevelt or Gifford Pinchot: use resources wisely for this generation but manage them so they will also be available for future generations.
Threats to such plans come from a variety of sources. Military rebels from many areas of Southern Africa, Angola, and other places killed for ivory and rhino horn, which provided money for weapons. They also killed to eat. Some members of the Zimbabwean military, poorly paid or undisciplined, also poached. Most game wardens were not prepared to risk their lives in opposing such well-armed men.
One advantage to the Campfire plan was that it was well received by Aid donors. One weakness was that the money generated, which was supposed to go to the villages except for a portion earmarked for the district government that needed it for road building and infrastructure, attracted the attention of the central government, which like all governments was anxious to spend the money on things that would get them reelected.
Duffy summarizes the international community's negative reaction to Campfire:
The policy of sustainable utilization has been criticized by Western environmental NGOs and donors. The criticisms stem from the belief that animals should not be treated as commodities or defined as resources. Also, for a number of deep green NGOs, such as the Humane Society, animals have an intrinsic right to life, not linked to any value they have for humans. (176)
Rosaleen Duffy's work, dense with data and a substantial bibliography, would be an excellent starting point for research into wildlife policy in Africa or associated topics, such as big game hunting or tourism. Highly recommended.
Dalvan M. Coger
University of Memphis, emeritus