South African ecologists currently face many challenges relating to the conservation of biodiversity and the growing economy. Excessive hunting and land development, as well as unemployment, all remain growing concerns for this struggling country. Jan-Hendrik, a South African who made contact with us, stated, “South Africa has lots of social and economic problems because most people are poor. To get them to middle class requires the economy to grow through mines and the expansion of living areas” (Hendrik). The growth of South Africa’s economy often occurs at nature’s expense. Mining, fracking, expansion of living areas and big game hunting all benefit the economy. Unfortunately, each have detrimental effects on the land and animals.
According to WildlifeExtra.com, big game hunting contributes to .04% of the country’s GDP, but overhunting contributes to a growing number of endangered species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s website, eleven of the 229 mammal species in South Africa remain endangered, fifteen vulnerable, and thirteen near threatened. Mining, which contributes to 18% of the GDP, is detrimental to air quality, causes deforestation, and releases toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil and water (“Effects of Mining,” para. 1). Based on a case study from the Environmental Monitoring Group, the air quality of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa is among the worst in the world because of coal mining, underground fires, and burning fuel from power stations (Munnik 7).
Unemployment, though gradually decreasing, remains a challenge for South Africa. According to Tradingeconomics.com, the current unemployment rate of 24.7% is the lowest it has been in two years. The majority of the unemployed are under the age of 35 and possess few basic skills (Mbele, para. 4). The Eastern Cape of South Africa alone has over 70% unemployment and endemic poverty (“Eco-Tourism Game Reserve,” Chart, pt. 2.1).
Despite South Africa’s growing number of issues, certain organizations take action to help create a better future, not only for the people, but for animals that live there as well. Ecotourism provides many opportunities to advance the country. For example, ecotourism creates vast “public awareness around sustainability issues including recycling, energy conservation, and minimizing environmental footprints (Broughton, para. 2). Ecotourism boosts the economy by encouraging tourism and providing the South African people with jobs.
Because of the high unemployment rates, many South Africans have turned to ecotourism for job opportunities. New jobs come with new ecotourism locations. Kuzuko Game Reserve and Lodge, located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, has created many jobs for more than 80 people living in the area. It is estimated that for every 10 tourists, one local job is created; therefore with the approximated 100 tourists per week at Kuzuko, 500 jobs will arise each year...