"Unfortunately there are still people who think that donor money and other funding should first go to 'people projects' and only leftovers should go to conservation projects. They argue that "people are more important than wildlife". Though on first sight a reasonable statement, it is however a very naive and short sighted vision. Both fields need an equal amount of attention.
Conservation is not only about saving that one beautiful animal. Conservation also means protection of whole eco-systems on which not only wildlife but also people depend.
A young mother from a village close to Thuma
Malawi faces serious environmental problems, like a shortage of fire wood (and many other forest products) on which most of the people in Malawi depend, floods during the rainy season, droughts during the dry season, erosion and a lowering water level of Lake Malawi, to name a few. All these environmental problems are the result of the rampant deforestation in the last decennia in Malawi and have drastically contributed, directly and indirectly, to poverty in Malawi.
Besides that, for a country like Malawi, among the poorest countries in the world, eco-tourism is one of the few chances of generating a significant and steady inflow of foreign cash which on the long term will positively affect the lives of all the people in this country; look at examples of 'wildlife countries' like Kenya and Tanzania where eco-tourism generates large amounts of revenue.
Eco-Tourism Needs Wildlife And Wildlife Needs Conservation
The average eco-tourist (with a lot of money in his pocket!) who comes to Africa simply wants to see an elephant, a leopard, a hippo, a buffalo and other wildlife and the choice of his or her holiday destination largely depends on the chance of actually seeing these animals.
Fortunately more and more people start to understand this link between wildlife and people and that is one of the reasons why NGO's working in conservation, like the Wildlife Action Group, work together with the local communities to make their projects a success for everybody and everything.
So conservation is not only about wildlife: it is about protecting wildlife and about contributing towards a long term and sustainable solution against hunger and poverty among people!" (Albert Schenk)