24 April 1990
Well, here I am aboard the Trans-Karoo on my way home after 2 weeks away. I’ve been in Zimbabwe attending an AIESEC environmental conference in Harare on “Wildlife Management in Africa”. The conference was really worthwhile, although at times frustrating. Worthwhile because it brought together people from Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and SA.
Also, it made one more aware of the importance of (nay, the necessity of) conserving our environment and in particular “our” wildlife. But frustrating for me (and how!) because “conservation” seemed to involve treating wildlife as a commodity, as something which humanity “owns” and has the right to determine the destiny of. What am I talking about? I’m talking about wildlife managers (?) having the audacity to decide that the life of an elephant is worth $5000, or an impala $75 (these are the trophy fees for sporting hunters!). Even the idea of culling wildlife to me seems wrong. Indeed, the concept of “wildlife/environmental management” seems to me a contradiction in terms; an environment manages itself! Mankind’s interference is perhaps the heart of the problem … But don’t let my bitterness mislead you; the conference was a wonderful and invaluable experience.
It was really great to be back in the land of my birth – the climate, the vegetation, the type of people … It got me thinking actually: Why did I choose to be born and to spend my early childhood in that land? What were the factors which I needed to shape me for this life of mine? I didn’t come up with any clear answers (I didn’t expect to) but perhaps it has something to do with learning to appreciate nature (rather than a “big city” experience at an early age), learning to appreciate more “primitive” ways of living (and often more natural); also learning about the effects of war (something which had a direct effect on us as a family, not to mention the country as a whole); and who knows what else? It is a question which will now remain with me as I journey through life …