The continued coronavirus pandemic is a direct consequence of our damaged relationship with nature. Scientists have lengthy been warning us that humanity’s destruction of nature, left unchecked, will outcome within the unfold of lethal ailments, droughts, famines and different disasters. For many years, amid the hustle and bustle of our day by day lives, these warnings fell on deaf ears. However we not have the posh to disregard the deep interconnection between human well being and nature. The continual lack of biodiversity is threatening the existence of all dwelling beings, together with us.
That is the place conservation comes into play. Conservation is the strongest weapon we’ve got to guard the planet we name house. However whereas conservation is essential for our survival, its significance is just not being communicated to plenty in an environment friendly manner, particularly the place it issues essentially the most – in Africa.
In Africa, the conservation story has lengthy been informed from an exterior perspective – the angle of science, and the West. The African peoples, cultures, heritage, data and aspirations have solely been a small a part of the dialog, an afterthought. We have to change this, and reclaim our function within the combat to save lots of the planet and the way forward for people.
Africa’s human inhabitants is anticipated to double by 2050. That may be 2.5 billion individuals, that means greater than 1 / 4 of the world’s individuals can be in Africa. And nearly 70 p.c of Africans can be underneath the age of 40. It will undoubtedly add to the momentum of the continent’s improvement.
However nature is already being destroyed at unprecedented charges in Africa within the identify of improvement. The best way we produce and devour meals and vitality, coupled with the blatant disregard for the setting entrenched in our financial system, have already introduced the pure world of the continent to a breaking level. A speedy improve in inhabitants is prone to pace up this destruction.
Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless attainable to construct a future through which the continent’s biodiversity is protected, its peoples are fed, industries are operating, and its economies are sustainable and affluent.
To realize this, we have to make conservation a main concern for all Africans. And maybe extra importantly, we have to realise that we’re not the one Africans. It’s boastful for us to suppose different species sharing this continent with us ought to pay the worth for our improvement. Giraffes, for instance, are solely present in Africa, and they’re as African as we’re. They’ve a proper to exist as a lot as we do. And their survival is tied to our survival.
Africans can solely actually perceive this, if they’re uncovered to content material underlining the significance of biodiversity and conservation steadily.
It’s no secret that tv programmes, newspaper articles and social media decide what we speak about in our properties, workplaces and native eateries. We’re what we watch and skim.
That is why it’s excessive time the media – each conventional and social – steps as much as its function of setting the agenda and turns its focus to what actually issues: the setting. The individuals who have the flexibility to achieve thousands and thousands of Africans each day and form the narratives in African households additionally wield the facility to make sure that wildlife thrives in trendy Africa.
I do know that content material exists, however we have to see extra of it. If Africans start to see extra content material on nature and wildlife, the dialog will certainly start to alter. Particularly if different Africans, who’re equally invested within the wellbeing and the event of the continent, inform them conservation is necessary.
Immediately, younger Africans, who stand to lose essentially the most on account of nature’s destruction, dominate the media – each social and conventional – on the continent. They’re members of essentially the most educated era Africa has ever had. They travelled greater than their dad and mom ever did and the web has opened the world to them in ways in which earlier generations couldn’t even dream of. They’re modern, technologically savvy, and even braver than the generations that liberated us from colonialism.
And they’re the perfect probability we’ve got to alter the best way the continent talks about and perceives conservation. They’re the perfect probability we’ve got to make sure Africa and all its inhabitants – human or in any other case – have a future. Are you able to think about, the impression Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkuruma, John Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba and different famend younger Pan African leaders would have generated, if they’d WhatsApp, Fb, Twitter or Instagram? They have been additionally younger once they began their wrestle. Immediately’s youth is probably dealing with a good larger problem than they have been – however additionally they have extra energy.
If there’s one factor that I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic can educate us all, it’s that the well being of people is one and the identical because the well being of nature and wildlife. When this pandemic is lastly over, we can’t afford to return to “regular” and proceed ignoring the destruction we’ve got been inflicting within the identify of improvement. And it’s as much as the African youth to maintain us all on the fitting path.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.