Materialism and Conservation
Botswana Wildlife Conservation

© Your safari guide at Kalahari Plains Camp
It is not a new concept that man is using the African Wilderness for personal gain, but what does the new age of materialism mean for man and the wilderness.

Man's Alliance With the Earth

In their standout work, The Miracle Rivers, Peter and Beverly Pickford write: 'In placing only a material worth on the wilderness, we have severed man's final alliance with the earth. We have denied ourselves as part of all creatures and all things, and have committed ourselves to a path of great loneliness.

In holding ourselves separate and aloof, we have subjected all that of which we are not a part to condescension, and have made of ourselves masters. The progression thence is to presume the work of God for evolution and in doing so we will make of ourselves a creature to hideous to love.'

This is a sentiment shared by many old school conservationists. But is it only now that we are placing material worth on the wilderness? Development has affected wilderness for centuries. We have poured toxins into the earth and air, destroyed vast tracks of land for human settlement and consumption.

With the coming of 'modern' weapons we began to lose some of our instinct for the hunt. Motor vehicles meant cutting roads into the wilderness thereby scarring it forever. With each development we moved further away from the wilderness in a spiritual sense.

The New African Wilderness Ideal

Placing a material worth on the wilderness is part of development and has to be seen in the context of the day. Many people in Africa still see conservation as a western luxury with no benefits for the majority. It is for this very reason that conservation should not be allowed to survive 'just for the sake of it'.

Telling a starving person to protect the environment for the future is not only arrogant but also shows a lack of understanding of issues affecting the world today.

Some conservationists have lost track with what is going on beyond their realm, in particular regarding current news events. It is in their ignorance that they fail to see how the issues of today affect the wilderness and the future thereof. It is up to these conservationists to change their attitudes and develop policies to fall in line with the Africa of today.

If not, they will continue to alienate themselves and the very issues they are trying to protect. The people of Africa are seeing the benefits of wilderness resources, for so long the domain of 'western ideas' and in the West's arrogance are critical of this.

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