Nicholas Kristof tours Africa and seems to get the wrong message, starting with this missive about everyone needing a helicopter:
We humans are suckers for certain kinds of wildlife, from lions to elephants. I hadn’t known I was a zebra fan until I drove my rented car into a traffic jam of zebras here. My heart fluttered.
As for rhinos, they’re so magnificent that they attract foreign aid. Women here in rural Zimbabwe routinely die in childbirth for lack of ambulances or other transport to hospitals, and they get no help. But rhinos in this park get a helicopter to track their movements.
I really don’t get what he is trying to say here, my guess is that in order to stop poaching the park rangers need to be able to track the Rhinos. One helicopter probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to the human population but it can make a huge difference to the Rhino population. He then comes up with this:
Then there are animals that don’t attract much empathy. Aardvarks. Newts. And, at the bottom tier, African wild dogs.
Wild dogs (which aren’t actually wild dogs, but never mind that for now) are a species that has become endangered without anyone raising an eyebrow. Until, that is, a globe-trotting adventurer named Greg Rasmussen began working with local villages to rebrand the dogs — and save them from extinction.
It’s a tale that offers some useful lessons for do-gooders around the world, in clever marketing and “branding,” and in giving local people a stake in conservation. For if it’s possible to rescue a despised species with a crummy name like “wild dogs,” any cause can have legs.
He has a point about giving local people a stake in the conservation but after that he has it completely backwards. You don’t need good marketing you need a true passion to help, and a clear idea of what will help. The wild dogs, or painted dogs, need habitat a food source, and protection from poaching, you give them those things and they will thrive.
The problem for the people of Africa is that none of the groups over there to “help” have any passion for the African people, the helpers mostly want to increase markets for western goods and services, perhaps exploit the natural resources of Africa, or save the souls of Africans, but they have no interest in what happens to the local human population. Some people can understand the intrisic value of wildlife(obviously not Mr Kristof) but there does not seem to be anyone that understands the intrisic value of the African human population and until that changes the plight of people in Africa will continue to worsen.