Many countries are blessed with abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystem, but some are unfortunately under-performing in conservation efforts. As a result, endemic species are declining and deforestation has gone severe that the damage is irreversible. The following countries have set good examples that environmental protection is not impossible despite all the difficult challenges.
Wildlife safari is lucrative source of income for Botswana, but the country insists on keeping the number of visitors lower than it can actually manage so wildlife conservations have minimum negative impact from tourism. Botswana has diverse ecosystems consisting of desert, delta, savannas, and grasslands. Rich environment translates to thriving wildlife. Chobe National Park, located in the Chobe District, has the largest concentration of African elephants in the world. It covers an area of more than 4,200 square miles and is home to at least 350 species of birds. The endangered African wild dogs are still found in large concentration here in Botswana. Endangered animals in Botswana include African White-backed Vulture, African Lion, African Elephant, African Skimmer, African Wild Dog, and Black Rhinoceros.
Notable conservation act: in 2006, the governments of the United States of America and Republic of Botswana signed agreements to reduce Botswana’s debt payments to the United States by more than $8.3 million. Instead of paying the debt, Botswana should use the financial resource for conservation efforts across the country.
The first country to put protection of the environment in its constitution was Namibia. Article 95 of Namibia constitution states “the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems: essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.” Namibia’s endangered species include African White-backed Vulture, African Lion, African Elephant, African Penguin, Leopard, and Black Rhinoceros.
Notable conservation act: in 1993, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) granted funding for government of Namibia in an attempt to intensity the efforts for wildlife conservation. Together with USAID, WWF, Canadian Ambassador’s Fund, and Endangered Wildlife Trust, Namibia formed a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CNBRM) to promote sustainable natural resource by local communities.
With at least 16 national parks designed to protect wildlife, Tanzania has proven its serious willingness in wildlife conservation and protection of the environment. About 38% of the country’s land area is used for nothing but conservation. In addition to the national parks, Tanzania also has forest and game reserves including the well-known Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Serengeti is one of major tourist attractions in Tanzania. It is home to Africa’s Big Five, wildebeest, zebras, and other big mammals. About 275 reptile and 130 amphibian species can be found in the country as well. Endangered species in Tanzania are Abbot’s Duiker, African Elephant, African Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Striped Hyena, and Dugong.
Notable conservation act: Tanzania has also developed a Biodiversity Action Plan to establish environmental sustainability targets. One of the nation’s targets say, “Tanzania is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992 having ratified it in 1996 making the country a fully-fledged party to the convention in response to international obligations to protect and conserve its biodiversity as a global resource.”
Just like in Namibia, the constitution of Bhutan also underlines the importance of wildlife conservation. In Bhutan, at least 60% of the country’s land area must always remain under forest cover. It also means that more than half of the entire country is protected; this includes national parks, national reserves, and biodiversity corridors. According to the International Union for Conservation Nature, Bhutan sets an excellent example of how proactive conservation should be done. For everything that Bhutan has been doing so far in terms of conservation, the country has received international acclaim. Endangered animals in Bhutan include Pygmy Hog, Asian Elephant, Snow Leopard, Tiger, Red Panda, India Rhinoceros, and Golden Leaf Monkey.
Notable conservation act: biodiversity corridors allow wildlife in the national parks to migrate freely throughout the country. Because the protected areas in Bhutan are connected to each other, the corridors play major roles to ensure survival of the animals.
Wildlife Conservation Act, introduced in 1960, made Zimbabwe do proper checking for the loss of wildlife in its territory. After spending more than three decades trying to restore order, Zimbabwe turned out to be a leading country in Africa in terms of wildlife conservation. Management of the conservation also deserves a highlight since the country has received at least US$ 300 million from tourism activities in the protected areas annually. Endangered animals in Zimbabwe include Black Rhinoceros, African Wild Dog, African Elephant, Cheetah, and African Lion.
Notable conservation act: Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Board along with its 12 members are responsible for the success. Protected areas including 10 national parks, four botanical gardens, nine recreational parks, three sanctuaries, and four safari areas are under the management of the Board. All those areas made up for 12.5% of Zimbabwe territory. The entire system is often referred to as Parks and Wildlife Estate.
Namibia was the first country to put protection of the environment in its constitution, and Norway was the first to ban deforestation. Norwegian Parliament formally and solemnly promises that the government’s public procurement policy will not involve even the slightest hint of deforestation. It also means that any company or product that contributes to deforestation is not going to be used in the country. The pledge has direct impact not only to domestic affairs, but also foreign projects. Endangered animals in Norway include Blue Whale, Fin Whale, Sperm Whale, Sei Whale and Polar Bear.
Notable conservation act: in 2015, the government of Norway granted $1 billion fund to Brazil as part of a 2008 agreement between the two countries to prevent further deforestation. The result is pretty impressive that deforestation in Brazil has been reduced to 75% over the last decade. Brazil probably set the record, but it would not be possible without Norway’s generosity.
7. Central African Republic
With tropical rainforest covering more than a third of its land areas, Central African Republic has to do some serious conservation efforts to keep its territory sustainable. One of the major highlights of CRA’s conservation efforts is the Chinko Project. It gives sanctuary for wildlife in a dangerous region where excessive cattle farming and militarized ivory poachers roam. This is why the Chinko Project is probably the most crucial and dangerous conservation project in Africa. In CRA, the most devastating force behind wildlife destruction is extreme poverty. CAR’s endangered animals include Chimpanzee, Giant African Water Shrew, Gorilla, African Wild Dog, and Red Colobus.
Notable conservation act: Chinko Project goes beyond protecting wildlife and the pristine landscape in the middle of the republic; it also gets involved in promoting governance and stability in a country with a seemingly-endless history of wildlife depletion, military conflicts, and corruption.
Managing more than 50 national parks and reserves, Canada is one of the highest spenders on conservation projects. Wildlife tourism is important to Canada, and all those wildlife sanctuaries serve the country well. This country has 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs) and 51 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) set in a network that stretches to all provinces. There are also refugees for species at risk designated for endangered animals such as burrowing owls, monarch butterflies, and polar bears. Canada’s endangered animals include blue Whale, Fin Whale, Northern Right Whale, Sea Otter, and Vancouver Marmot.
Notable conservation act: Canada has proven its intention to preserve wildlife with an interesting project called the Banff Wildlife Crossing. It involved constructing overpasses and underpasses in the Trans-Canada Highway for wild animals so they can safely use the route alongside humans.
More than 80% of all the trips to Zambia are done with the sole purpose to have chance to see the country’s diverse wildlife. Game Management Areas (GMAs) take 15.6% of the country, while forest reserves use 7.2% of its territory, so Zambia technically has one-third of its areas used for conservation efforts. Endangered animals in Zambia include Ansell’s Shrew, Black Rhinoceros, African Elephant, Cheetah, and Lion.
Notable conservation act: In the protected areas, hunting is subject to regulation, and the same thing can be said to timber harvesting and land clearing. Almost all regions in Zambia have rich diverse wildlife, both inside and outside the protected areas.
The fastest growing industry in Rwanda is tourism, especially wildlife safaris involving mountain gorillas. In Rwanda, the main focus in conservation area is on increasing forest density, which in turns will sustain wildlife species. Rwanda’s endangered animals include Black Rhinoceros, Chimpanzee, African Wild Dog, and Mountain Gorilla.
Notable conservation act: working together with communities in villages both inside and outside of protected areas, the government of Rwanda is actually in good progress and on the right track to increase forest areas from 10% to 20% by 2020.
Most of the countries that have done considerable efforts in wildlife conservation are not particularly rich, but those that rely heavily on wildlife diversity for economic growth. With few exceptions, all the countries in the list are in developing world yet their policies and funding for protection of the environment have given great results.
There will always be challenges, both from the lack of resources and poachers; regardless of the difficulties, wildlife conservation is here to stay, and everyone can always find a way to get involved or contribute to the efforts to give better future for biodiversity.