CONSERVATION IN SOUTH AFRICA – AN ETHIC IN CONFLICT

Conserving ‘natural spaces’ to be natural – protecting nature and the resources she provides to us is not a new concern; it is in fact, a part of our entire human philosophical and religious history. Protecting our environment and conservation has deep cultural significance and has always been a huge a pillar in our ethos.


There are no traditional religious philosophies on our planet that do not highlight the protection of nature, particularly forests and trees, spiritual sites, animals, plants and birds and their lives as sacred. From the very earliest of time humans have built an ethic out of the value of environmental protection that has separated the good from the evil in our lives.


Whether we depend on the protection of nature because of the romantic or spiritual belief that it is a temple where man can share and communicate with God, or whether the beauty of nature stimulates religious feelings and supports spiritual experiments, or whether we simply see nature as a provider and supplier of resources we depend on for life; we should all have a deep rooted sense of security, of longevity and of respect that we have a home – a space that has always provided us with life.


The Kruger National Park is one of these spaces. It is great natural space that should be part of our culture, our spiritual and religious philosophy, our socio-economic and political futures, and, of course, a solid ethic of protection that we all subscribe to.


When nature plants a seed all of her processes and resources are used. She is dynamic and continually rethinks the process, continually reduces waste, reuses her resources and recycles her work. These four ‘Rs’ are not new concepts in consumer conservation, they are talked about often – still referred to as priorities in our relationship with our environment – and held up as the cornerstone of our own involvement.


Our involvement as a custodian of nature should include:

Local purchasing and community development;The sustained and efficient use of renewable resources;The moderation of destructive use of finite resources;The prevention of harm to common resources such as air and water quality; andThe natural functions of a living earth and cultural values in a built up environment.


It’s a tough question to answer if you’re asked about your ethic in conservation. Sadly the general response to this question is: “I don’t care,” or: “No!” or: “I’m trying!” The most honest of which seems to be: “I don’t care!”


I believe we need to plant a seed again. As a nation we need to adopt these four Rs of social conservation and nurture a sustained ethic of environmental consciousness before it’s too late.


We need to start at the beginning, with our children, and allow our children the chance and afford them the tools, to protect what will become their natural spaces and their quality of life.


Racing around the Kruger National Park looking for lions because of an SMS, internet site or short wave radio alert is a direct route to ruining the Kruger National Park. The custodians of nature surely regard this behaviour as damaging?


Today’s outrage at people leaving their vehicles at a leopard sighting can almost directly be attributed to the ethic that websites promoting mass gatherings at sightings are harvesting. NOT GOOD – VERY SHORT SIGHTED, and part of a growing ethic of disrespect.


A national effort to re-introduce the Kruger as an icon of conservation and not as a pleasure resort is required. As South Africans we need to assess our motivations for wanting to see a lion. We need to consciously reduce our waste while we’re in the Kruger National Park, we need to reuse the information on conservation and protection learned when we return home, and we have to start recycling our rubbish properly. Let’s RETURN a message of protection to our children and REINSTILL the values associated with conservation. REFLECT on the damage we have caused already – the Kruger is fast becoming like a CIRCUS because of our constant need to get hundreds of people racing around trying to ‘see’ a poor, hapless lion going about its business without learning a damn thing about it.


Let’s reflect on how effective our custodianship of our natural spaces has fared to date. Try and reduce an increasing hunger for more and more wild escapes and self-centered entertainment at the cost of the landscape and the quality of the air and water we send out to millions of people gasping for a quality provider.

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