Sunday, July 22, 2007

Homo sapiens vs. "lower primates"

The Washington Post published a very interesting piece this weekend:

In an Eastern Congo Oasis, Blood Amid the Greenery
In Africa's Oldest National Park, Gorillas Are Being Killed and Their Guardians Are Endangered, Too

Plenty of justifiable disgust with poachers, and I agree with that. But poachers are the symptom of a much more grave problem, the insecurity of the local populations of homo sapiens.

As I commented on the WP site, "At the risk of starting a flame war, let me suggest that we see homo sapiens as part of the solution, not just part of the problem. The better off humans are in that part of the world, the less likely they are to threaten "lower" primates."

One of the most effective ways to enhance basic human security in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa is to see that the locals have sufficient access to safe drinking water and sanitation. As an example, see what Daryl Hannah is doing in Rwanda:

Daryl Hannah Turns It On for World Water Day

The more safe drinking water is available in human villages, the less frequently those humans need to encroach on gorilla habitat. The unfortunate reality is that when homo sapiens encounter other primates, homo sapiens typically win. We should do what we can to avoid those instances, as should the local and national government authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere.

The one other thing I would add in this forum is that if human waste in the villages is treated properly (e.g. pit latrines), the more likely that the bodies of water supporting the gorilla habitats will remain at least relatively unspoiled, so it is important to not omit consideration of environmental sanitation as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, very interesting linkage between water for humans and water for gorillas - and always good to have Daryl Hannah on board your issue.