Where Black Lives Actually Matter

I warned back in July that the likely overreaction to the killing of Cecil the Lion would result in lower protection for the endangered charismatic megafauna celebrated on WWF bumper stickers everywhere, and lo and behold the New York Times reports this morning on the latest unintended consequence of good intentions. Who could have seen this coming?

A Hunting Ban Sap’s a Village’s Livelihood

SANKUYO, Botswana — Lions have been coming out of the surrounding bush, prowling around homes and a small health clinic, to snatch goats and donkeys from the heart of this village on the edge of one of Africa’s great inland deltas. Elephants, too, are becoming frequent, unwelcome visitors, gobbling up the beans, maize and watermelons that took farmers months to grow.

Since Botswana banned trophy hunting two years ago, remote communities like Sankuyo have been at the mercy of growing numbers of wild animals that are hurting livelihoods and driving terrified villagers into their homes at dusk.

The hunting ban has also meant a precipitous drop in income. Over the years, villagers had used money from trophy hunters, mostly Americans, to install toilets and water pipes, build houses for the poorest, and give scholarships to the young and pensions to the old.

There’s more, but here’s the money quote from Zambia’s minister of tourism, Jean Kapata:

“In Africa, a human being is more important than an animal. I don’t know about the Western world,” she added, echoing a complaint in affected parts of Africa that the West seemed more concerned with the welfare of a lion in Zimbabwe than of Africans themselves.

In other words, black lives matter.