Â Africa is the oldest continent on earth having remained in place since the breakup of panacea 200million years ago. The array of ecosystem and organisms contained with in its forest rivers deserts, wetlands, mountains, and savannas is unequalled in the world. These ecosystems and the organism they host are under siege. Its these ecosystems that African tourism has been surviving.Â The human species evolved at the margin of the equatorial forests of Africa and people have substantially influenced African ecosystems for hundreds of thousands of years. Early hunter-gatherers used fire to turn dry woodland areas into savanna grassland for example.
But the frantic colonial exploitation of resources that characterized the slave, rubber, and ivory trades and the introduction of the exotic crop species that made rain forest agriculture possible (such as bananas, maize, cassava, taro, and Bata) threw African environmental change into a new gear. The following are major causes ofÂ resource depletion
The deforestation that has taken years on African soils has caused more harm .
There has probably been more African destruction in the past 60 years than in the preceding 10,000 while timber harvesting in virgin forests is often limited to anew commercially valuable tree species only about one tree per hectare is removed by most loggers and does not itself destroy a forest the logging loads, left behind by the timber industry enable other, more harmful incursions the roads. The roads provide deep forest access to hunters seeking bush meat.
Drought and civil wars also contributed significantly to forest degradation as they drive refugees away from their traditional lands and livings into new forested areas where only living to be made is from slash-and â€“burn agriculture and hunting for bush meat increases in urbanization and industraliasation have also raised the demand for wood products especially firewood and charcoal. Consumption of forest products nearly doubled in Africa during the period from 1970to 1994. Africa lost 39 million hectares of tropical forest during the 1980s and another 10million hectares by 1995.
Unless energy alternatives to fire wood can be found as well as alternative sources of income for people whose lives depend on forest consumption deforestation will continue to accelerate.
WildlifeÂ which surpports tourism like gorillas, lion,chimpanzee and other game viewingÂ Â is under siege as forests, Savanah grassland Â shrink and deserts grow wildlife populations are forced into islands of habitat. Increasingly large and under nourished human populations desperate for arable land to cultivate surround these islands with short lived farms and penetrate them in search of wild animals to eat or sell environmental degradation in Africa is exponential the worth things get the faster they get still worse.
Thousands of tons of wild animals are hunted every year both by commercial poachers and by subsistence hunters Elephant are taken for their ivory rhinos for their hones and gorillas for their hands and feet
But the bush meat trade hunting for food has an even greater impact on wildlife populations many of which are already balanced on the blink of extinction According to the convention on International Trade in Endangered speciesÂ (CITES) list hunting of wild life for food is a major problem for 30 end geared African species including forest antelopes monkeys elephant, chimpanzees and gorillas. These have supported safari tourism on African soils and no wonder the word safari is more african than can be heard else where on this earth.
If Africa is to retain God given treasure on this planet , authorities need to double their efforts in curbing dangers that are likely to finish our resource. Its pity thatÂ we Africans the direct beneficiaries have done less to stop this than outsiders who have put their feet down like the European union, and other world organizations like UNESCO that made a lot efforts to make sure that our national parks can survive.
By Fred Bukenya .