At 03:25 PM 3/19/97 -0500, you wrote:
Dear all:  We just finished the following piece and would appreciate wide
circulation through newsletters, your email lists, snailmail, websites, etc.
 Need groups to sign on in support and write letters.  Let me know if you
need edited version for your publication and will happily rewrite to your
word count.  Best,  Teresa Platt, tplatt1070@aol.com, 619-575-4664



Conservation and Local Control: The Front Lines Move to Africa
by Teresa Platt, Patti Strand and Bruce Vincent

Animal rights groups have mounted an all-out campaign to end U.S. funding for
Africa's leading development and conservation program. Their aim is to
discredit the philosophy of sustainable use and to keep control of natural
resources out of the hands of rural communities.

Why should Americans be concerned about this? Because it is the same war we
are fighting here in the U.S. as we battle animal rightists and
preservationists eliminating local custom, culture and control under the
banner of "saving the Earth."

The Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources, or CAMPFIRE,
is a program of the Zimbabwean government which currently receives most of
its funding from the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID). CAMPFIRE is carrying the concept of liberty, what once was simply
the "American Way," to development and conservation in Africa.

CAMPFIRE replaces centralized control over the use of natural resources -
primarily wildlife - with local control. Communities sharing the land with
the resources are granted property and resource rights making them the legal
stewards of those resources. They can manage them for their own benefit, but
they must also assume responsibility for conserving them. So eager have rural
communities been to accept this challenge that programs based on the CAMPFIRE
model are now springing up across southern Africa. A revolution has begun in
the way Africans use their land and relate to wildlife, an African/American
revolution.

Animal rights and preservationist groups are working overtime to kill this
revolution.  They don't want the world to know that conservation works better
in the hands of local, vested interests, than when "experts" from the cities,
or even other countries, dictate what should be done.

CAMPFIRE demonstrates that when people are legally empowered to manage the
natural resources with which they live, both human development and
conservation are beneficiaries.  And with Zimbabwe the site in June of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the
preservationists are committed to discrediting and destroying CAMPFIRE.   

And so, the front lines over conservation and control move to Africa.
 Another battle over conservation versus preservation.  Another battle in the
same war for self determination and local control that we resource providers
are fighting here on U.S. soil as we fight a host of regulations designed to
"save the Earth."

Sharing Your Space With Dangerous Critters

Living alongside elephants, buffalo, lions and leopards, as with grizzly
bears, cougars, wolves in the U.S., is a perilous existence. Every year,
hundreds of Africans are trampled or mauled to death.   As in the U.S., there
are loses to crops and livestock, a situation worsened in Africa with its
minimal welfare support.  

After colonization, the Africans lost local control completely.  Human needs,
they were told, were secondary to the need to conserve Africa's
"biodiversity." Under colonial rule, wildlife was off-limits to rural
Africans, and hence had no economic value for them. But at the same time they
were expected to endure the constant menace posed to human life and crops.
The consequences were predictable: poaching coupled with shrinking wildlife
habitat as hungry people put more and more land under the plough.  

Sound familiar?  Removing the steward from the land has long been official
African policy as it is fast becoming official U.S. policy.  But the CAMPFIRE
program successfully broke through the barriers and proved in the
international arena that by giving communities the right to manage THEIR
wildlife.  People can co-exist with, and benefit from, wildlife. Once a
liability, wildlife becomes an economic asset.  People, animals and the land
thrives. 

New wells, grinding mills, schools, roads are the benefits of CAMPFIRE to the
human communities.  Natural wildlife habitat, which once covered 12% of
Zimbabwe's land area, now covers a staggering 30% as people coexist in
productive harmony with nature.  Animal populations are increasing, with
Zimbabwe elephant herds, for example, growing from 47,000 in 1980 to nearly
70,000 today.

Stop Doing That!

But preservationists and animal rights groups want what they always want.
 "Stop doing that!" they shout.  Led by the Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS), a massive public relations campaign is being waged to
discredit and destroy CAMPFIRE, and eliminate USAID funding.

The preservationists recognize that their power as global green overlords is
under threat.  For most of this century, the trend in wildlife management in
Africa, and now in the U.S., has been for centralized institutions to assume
ever more control. Above all, this has meant control by governments, but in
recent years there has been a rise in power exercised by international
conventions such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES).  

Preservationist and animal rights groups have been successful in influencing
such institutions to assume a preservationist approach to wildlife, limiting
or banning economic exploitation. This approach is as alien to rural Africans
as it is to rural Americans, as we all watch our land turned into preserves
for eco-tourists.

By decentralizing the power, CAMPFIRE threatens the power base of the
preservationists, animal rightists and global green overlords.  

As Mike McCloskey, chairman of the Sierra Club explained to his board of
directors, "This re-distribution of power is designed to disempower our
constituency, which is heavily urban. ...It is curious that these ideas would
have the effect of transferring influence to the very communities where we
are least organized and potent....It is also most troubling that such
processes tend to de-legitimate conflict as a way of dealing with issues and
of mobilizing support.  It is psychologically difficult to simultaneously
negotiate and publicly attack bad proposals from the other side.  This tends
to be seen as acting in bad faith.  Too much time spent in stakeholder
processes may produce the result of demobilizing and disarming our side."

Compounding the issue, animal rights and preservationist groups are ethically
opposed to hunting and trade in wildlife products.  In line with their "no
use/preservationist" philosophy, they decree, incorrectly, that trade in
wildlife products is inevitably bad for conservation.

CAMPFIRE and similar programs involve killing wildlife for the meat, hide and
other uses.  U.S. purchases of products made from African wildlife products
will help build healthy human communities operating within healthy ecosystems
on the other side of the globe.  

CAMPFIRE demonstrates that managed harvesting of small quotas of wildlife
benefits conservation.  For example, before CAMPFIRE managed elephant hunts,
more elephants were killed in Zimbabwe - either as part of culling programs
or as crop-raiders - than are killed today. The reason is simple: hunting
fees are an incentive to tolerate, and therefore conserve, wildlife.  

Animal rights groups are now distorting this reality.  A recent HSUS
advertisement in the National Enquirer, of all places, is entitled "Innocent
Elephants Slaughtered for Sport - and You're Paying for It!" An inhumane
illegal elephant hunt was portrayed, backed by fiction about where hunting
fees go. Readers were urged to complain about use of USAID dollars to Senator
Wayne Allard (R - CO), who is heading the campaign to restore the
centralization of resource management.  

In seeking to protect the "rights" of individual animals, animal rights
groups ignore the realities of life for people sharing the land with
magnificent but dangerous creatures. And in so doing, they also fail to
support the best option for conserving wildlife and biodiversity.

Support of CAMPFIRE and similar programs by USAID is completely compatible
with the American ideals of the wise use of resources, local control and
property rights. By supporting such programs overseas, we U.S. citizens can
confirm our support for own right to control OUR land and wildlife resources.
 CAMPFIRE will be center stage at CITES this June, coincidentally at the same
time as the Alliance for America Fly-In for Freedom in DC.  Let's help the
Africans of CAMPFIRE teach the world how local resource management, coupled
with property rights and economic incentives, is good policy for both human
development and conservation.  The alternative - preservationism, animal
rights, and centralized command and control over natural resources - is rural
genocide.  

Save CAMPFIRE

U.S. assistance to CAMPFIRE is vital if the program is to succeed.  CAMPFIRE
is revolutionizing colonial African land use policies, addressing the needs
of development and conservation at the same time, an enormous task.  CAMPFIRE
will need funding until it becomes self-sustaining.  People are being
trained, new management institutions established, and infrastructure built.
 But if the CAMPFIRE approach is allowed to succeed, it will not be
aid-dependent for long.  Within a few years, a whole new class of rural
Africans will be looking for trade, not aid.  

To help millions of impoverished Africans build a better life, to hold up a
success story of conservation as opposed to preservation, to educate the
world about how to maintain abundance in animal populations by connecting
people to THEIR wildlife, fax us to add your group's name to a growing list
of supporters of CAMPFIRE.  We also urge you to write your Senators and
Congressman and request that the Zimbabwe CAMPFIRE program be saved.  

Yes, we recognize the importance of the CAMPFIRE program.  Please add our
group's name to your list of CAMPFIRE supporters.  I will contact my
Congressional representatives today urging them to continue USAID funding for
Zimbabwe and programs such as CAMPFIRE. 

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Thank you and your neighbors in Africa thank you.

Return this completed form to:  
Teresa Platt, Alliance for America, 826 Orange Avenue, #504, Coronado, CA
92118 USA,
Tel: 619-575-4664, Fax: 619-575-5578, email: tplatt1070@aol.com

Teresa Platt is a founder of The Fishermen's Coalition based in San Diego and
serves on the boards of National Animal Interest Alliance and Alliance for
America.

Patti Strand is executive director of National Animal Interest Alliance
(NAIA) which forges active links among those involved with animals in
education, companionship, recreation, entertainment and food production.

Bruce Vincent serves as president of the Alliance for America, a national
grassroots organization dedicated to restoring people and common sense to the
environmental equation.