Parks and People in Africa

New Scientist has an interview with Paul van Vlissingen who is the largest private parks operator in Africa. Interesting is his focus on the importance of integrating the people and the park:

No park will survive in the long run unless it is supported by the people living in and around it. They need to know there is something better to do with a zebra than eat it, that they can benefit from protecting it.

Our management philosophy is completely different from anything that has been there before. We say that the villagers in and around our parks should see the park rangers as people who will help them, not as policemen who go round beating up anybody they think is poaching. Our rangers visit the villages and ask if there is anything they can do. There is a lot of physical suffering there: hunger, malaria, AIDS, people being mauled by lions. Our rangers have radio equipment, so they can get doctors or medicine. We offer security, too. In Liuwa, our park in Zambia, there were 60 or 80 murders a year before we went there. In the first year that we were there, that number went down to 26, the next year to two.

One thought on “Parks and People in Africa”

  1. There is an older (2003) article about Paul van Vlissingen and his park on the BBC webiste Africa’s wildlife ‘to be privatised’

    A South African private company has said that it has plans to take over a string of national parks throughout Africa.

    The plan will benefit Zambia, Malawi Mozambique Sub-Saharan countries said to benefit from the plan are Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique.

    The scheme, which is the brainchild of a Dutch multi-millionaire and nature conservationist, Paul van Vlissingen, has won the support of an extraordinary range of groups and individuals, including former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, the US State Department and even the World Bank.

    The company is African Parks Conservation.

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