Thursday, July 18, 2024
General Agriculture

Wildlife Management and Importance of Wildlife

Wildlife management could simply be defined as application of ecological knowledge to populations of (vertebrate and invertebrate) animals and their environment in a way that strikes a balance between the needs of those populations and the needs of man.

Wildlife management is essentially applied ecology, and it will advance as basic ecological knowledge becomes available and is integrated by wildlife ecologists.

What is ecology?

The word ecology is derived from the two Greek words oikos meaning ‘home’ and logos ‘study of’. It was first coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1869 and it means the study of an organism in its natural home.

In other words, it is the study of the inter-relationship between organisms and their environment. With increased knowledge about wildlife ecology, the programme of management gets more effective. The application of ecological knowledge involves three basic management approaches:

• Preservation by allowing nature to take its course without human intervention

• Direct manipulation of animal population by cropping, culling etc. For instance species from overpopulated areas could be transported elsewhere.

• Indirect manipulation of animal population through alteration of vegetation and habitat improvement.

Wildlife Management

Wildlife management sometime is better termed wildlife conservation, since in some cases the best technique for conserving a landscape is to leave it intact and doing so may not fit the definition of management. In such instance, there may be no management at all.

Conservation has been defined in Encyclopaedia Americana (1976) as getting the maximum use of the greatest number of available natural resources that are valuable to the greatest possible number of people for the longest period of time.

Encyclopaedia Britanica (1981) on the other hand defines conservation as the achievement of the highest sustainable quality of living for mankind by the rational utilisation of the environment.

In the Funk and Wagnal dictionary (1963) it is the act of keeping or protecting from loss or injury while Chapman & Reiss (1995) defines it as the management of the earths resources in a way which restores and maintains the balance between human requirements and the other species in the world. The decision as to what is best is that of man.

Since we are human, we have, like other animals, a natural bias towards our own survival. Try as we might, we cannot remove our human bias from our perception in dealing with flora and fauna around us.

Importance of Wildlife

Wildlife is a natural resource of an overwhelming degree of usefulness. However, the value of Nigeria’s wildlife has only been realised a little due to lack of awareness, inadequate funding and illegal human activities among other problems.

1. Sources of Protein

Wildlife represents the principal source of animal protein for the rural majority in most African countries. Wildlife, particularly forest mammals, account for between
20%-90% of total animal protein consumed in Benin Republic, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote-d-voire, Liberia and Nigeria.

The supply of bush meat from the wild no doubt serves as a possible measure to bridge the gap between livestock production and human population growth.

A considerable number of individuals now make a living out of snail farming, bee honey production (apiary) and grass-cutter rearing while some others do this as a means of alleviating poverty.

However, the hunting methods are crude and wasteful. These include the use of fire, snares, traps (especially gin traps), dogs and dane guns. These methods, mostly in unskilled hands, lead to serious losses of wild animals.

Many wild animals get wounded and escape only to die later and be consumed by scavengers rather than by the intended hunters. Some of the methods used are not selective and indiscriminate killing of young and pregnant females may drastically affect wild animal population and lead to the disappearance of valuable wild animal species in an area.

2. Education and Research

The study of the environment in which we live is being given more and more attention in formal education. In most parts of Nigeria virgin stretches of land is difficult to find and due to hunting pressure, even the protected areas now have few large wild animals. In the past such large animals were abundant in areas with natural vegetation.

Today with long periods of conservation activities the protected areas provide students with first hand information about wildlife and natural vegetation.

This kind of opportunity is not available to school children and students in many developed countries where natural habitats have been destroyed beyond repair, but in Africa we are privileged to have stocks of large animals to this day.

Wildlife has made significant contribution to research the world over. Research in medicine, including studies on disease immunology, frequent depends on the availability of species of wild animals. Thus, life animals (rats, primates) are being used in many medical research
laboratories.

Primates are widely used by virtue of their relative resemblance of man. Perhaps you have heard about the Rhesus factor which is very helpful in blood transfusion today. This was first discovered in Rhesus monkey before it was applied to man. The
common toad is used in countless undergraduate practicals to demonstrate nerve muscle action.

Now come to think of it, it is not possible to maintain a great variety of wild animal species in captivity and there is a need for all wild species to be preserved for study. More so very little is known about most of the wildlife species (and their potential values) that there are possibilities of major discoveries being made in human medicine (and other areas) as a result of investigations into other animals.

3. Sale of Live Animals and Wild Animal Products

A largen umber of live animals are exported out of the country. These include monkeys, baboons, and birds for exhibition in zoos and use in laboratories. The wildlife products included the skins of reptiles (such as snakes and lizards) and mammals including leopards and antelope.

Ivory, which was once one of the most precious export products from West Africa, is scarce nowadays (that the Elephant is an endangered species), but good management of elephant herds can bring back this valuable material. Live animals for sale must be captured with great care and kept in comfort and good health.

This entails much higher input of labour than is required in hunting for meat and thus brings in greater income for the collector on each animal caught. Wild animals’ purchased are also used as pets.

Recently, monkeys are being trained to assist paralysed human beings in doing some things at home.

4. Tourism and Foreign Exchange

Wildlife conservation areas have proved to be one of the world’s greatest attractions for tourists. National parks, game reserves, zoos and museums provide ample opportunity for recreation and education of both young and old.

If tourism is developed, Nigeria as a country with potential resources can earn hundreds of millions of Naira from game viewing and tourism like Kenya and Tanzania.

Already the Kainji lake national park and Yankari game reserve recordbetween 3,000 and 10,000 visitors representing over 50 nationalities annually. Tourists spending begin with fares paid for international and local air transport.

This is followed by payment of hotel bills and hiring of vehicles for making local tours. Also, tourists pay for such services as game guides and interpreters and they buy locally made goods as souvenirs.

Tourism accounts for more than US $ 3.5 trillion of world output that is 6 percent of world Gross Domestic Products. International tourism has long been a source of foreign exchange earning, this contributed to the economy of African countries such as Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, Tanzania and Botswana.

5. Conservation for Posterity

The economic argument in favor of conservation is very great but equally important is the need to preserve our National heritage (of abundant genetic resources).

Our role should be that of a trustee who must ensure that he does not pass unto future generations less than what we have inherited. When economic development has provided that human population with the means of a safe and comfortable livelihood, there will be more time to think about culture and recreation. Our history and folklores are tied firmly to a background of wild animals.

These animals are as much a part of our tradition as the Benin sculpture, and our rich tradition of music, dancing and other art forms. Wild animals cannot be preserved adequately in museums and zoos but must be maintained as wild and free creatures. Our modern technology which will provide food and comfort has the power to destroy this heritage and also the power to conserve it for posterity.

6. Traditional Medicine: the importance of wildlife to traditional medicine cannot be over emphasised. Parts of wild animals and wild plants are being used in combination to cure various ailments in both children and adults.

Read Also: Basic Principles in Fish Farming

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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