Arab spring has been a disaster for North Africa’s wildlife
The profusion of weapons has been a disaster for the wildlife of the Sahara
Weapons and motor bikes bad news for wildlife
Article reproduced courtesy of the Sahara Conservation Fund
November 2012. Thanks to new technologies, the ubiquitous cell phone with built-in camera, and the power of the Internet and social networks, like Facebook, to disseminate information, new facts are coming to light on the impacts of the Arab Spring on North African wildlife.
Sahara Conservation Fund's colleagues in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya have found hundreds of photos showing the goriest scenes of wildlife slaughter on the internet.
Slender-horned and dorcas gazelles and the Barbary sheep hardest hit
Quad bikes and motor bikes enable the hunters to chase down the wildlife like never before.
Species hardest hit are the slender-horned and dorcas gazelles and the Barbary sheep, all listed as threatened and restricted to a tiny number of sites. While much of the damage probably took place during the revolutions that toppled the former leaders of Tunisia and Libya, there is good evidence for continued poaching, especially in the deserts of southern Tunisia.
Here, as elsewhere in the Sahara, the new weapons of choice are the motorbike and the quad. Capable of chasing down and exhausting wildlife over the difficult terrain, the motorbike is rapidly becoming the number one scourge of gazelles in even quite isolated places.
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The growing number of North African NGOs and conservationists are well aware of these problems and are taking action locally but they desperately need our help and backing in what can often be for them a very perilous undertaking. Support from the international conservation community is urgently required, including from influential inter-governmental organizations like the Convention on Migratory Species and IUCN. Over the coming months, SCF will be working to expose the gravity of the situation facing North Africa's desert wildlife and helping mobilize support for high level contacts with the authorities concerned.
Civil war in Chad in the 1980s drove the scimitar-horned oryx to extinction in the wild.
In Niger, it was the ostrich that suffered the consequences of the uprising of the 1990s. Conservation of wildlife should not be about regime change or civil unrest but about ensuring the priceless natural heritage of all countries remains safe for future generations to cherish and enjoy.