Dress for success


We have previously mentioned the current predicament of the Hadza. Here is an article in the Daily Mail, Face to face with Stone Age man: The Hadzabe tribe of Tanzania.

Ah, journalists. The Hadza don’t live in the Stone Age. “Hadzabe” is the feminine plural of “Hadza”; this usage is usually considered redundant in English, so we speak of the “Swahili”, not the “Waswahili”. The journalist writes,

I introduced myself and Naftal translated my words into clicks and whistles to an older Hadza called Gonga (Good Hunter in Swahili).

He smiled warmly, revealing surprisingly well-kept teeth.

The Hadza language, like many language in Southern Africa, use clicks as consonants, but no whistles.

There is a picture of the journalist in the article. He has surprising well-kept teeth for a British journalist.

What is interesting about the picture is that the young Hadza man is dressed up for the tourism business. Hadza men don’t usually use animal skins for clothing, and they certainly don’t use hoods. A hood makes no sense in the environment in which the Hadza live. There are photographs of the Hadza dating back to the 1930s, taken by Ludwig Kohl-Larsen, and there are later photographs taken by James Woodburn and others.

It is clear that increasing use of skins and also beads is a response to tourism. The Hadza are now on the tourism circuit. They put on their faux-traditional outfits for the benefit of tourists, and take them off when the tourists have left.

If that provides more income, why not? One danger is that government officials will find it embarrassing that there are people walking about in hides and skins, and will do little to help the Hadza with the biggest problem they face, loss of control and ownership of their lands.


Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd.

From the comments, Sibylle Riedmiller of www.chumbeisland.com replies to a comment on this post:

Answering Peter Gottesman: welcome to check out Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd (CHICOP) in Zanzibar/Tanzania:… it took a lot of struggle and investment, but it works! See our website for details and a summary below…

Continue reading

The Sustainable Investment Holding

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has written a report for WWF Germany entitled Sustainable Investments for Conservation – The Business Case for Biodiversity (pdf, free, but registration necessary).


The ideas is to mobilize funds held by institutional investors (in this case, in the German speaking area) for conservation through the creation of a sustainable investment holding.

Most conservation projects are too small to be of interest to institutional investors. By pooling multiple commercial projects it should be possible to create a sustainable investment holding with a portfolio that could be of interest to large investors.

The projects described in the report (ecotourism in Costa Rica and Namibia, forestry in Brazil) do not pay directly for conservation, only indirectly. And, as mentioned in previous posts, neither ecotourism nor tree-growing CO2 offsets are without problems. Still, the idea is certainly worth exploring.

Ecotourism: First, Do No Harm

“I think there’s been a glib … championing of ecotourism, that it’s a win-win situation,” says Martha Honey, executive director of the Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development in Washington, D.C. in an article in Science News,

When ecotourism in an area grows, the site becomes vulnerable to the same problems, such as sewage maintenance, that come with mass tourism, says John Davenport of University College Cork in Ireland.

Even for activities that aren’t usually destructive, a high volume of tourists can create a problem, he says. Such is the case with scuba diving—traditionally a well-managed, environmentally friendly sport. Throughout the world, researchers have seen a link between dive traffic and coral damage, Davenport says. Divers knock into corals or stir up silt that suffocates the reefs, which regenerate slowly.

When divers add an underwater camera to already cumbersome scuba gear—a juggling act that Davenport compares with “driving while having a shave and a smoke”—the damage becomes worse. In Sodwana Bay in South Africa, divers who took underwater photographs damaged reefs by bumping into them in on average, 9 out of 10 dives, whereas divers who didn’t take pictures caused such damage in just 1 out of every 6 dives, he reports.

“Since you’ve got a million new scuba divers [around the world] each year, it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Davenport says…

Currently, good research on ecotourism is difficult to find, says Davenport. Most destinations weren’t studied before ecotourism began, making before-and-after comparisons difficult. Moreover, many governments are reluctant to provide funding for investigations because they profit from ecotourism.

Perhaps the major barrier is the working assumption that ecotourism, with the conservation funds it raises, must be better than typical mass tourism. Says Hueter, “My concern is, that’s where the analysis ends, and only in rare cases do [researchers] look deeper.”

Read the article here.

Where, oh where, are the studies we need?

Earth Sanctuaries Ltd. Goes Belly Up

Earth Sanctuaries Ltd., an innovative Australian company, has gone bankrupt. Run by the unorthodox and outspoken John Wamsley and later by his wife, Prudence (Proo) Geddes, Earth Sanctuaries Ltd. (ESL) was Australia’s most ambitious attempt at private sector conservation. ESL successfully reintroduced 25 mammal species to their former range and eradicated feral cats, foxes, rabbits, and goats from more than 10,000 hectares. At its peak of land ownership in 2001, ESL owned 10 sanctuaries covering more than 90,000 hectares.

ESL bred the platypus, and saved several species from extinction, including Australia’s most primitive kangaroo, the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), and the woylie (Bettongia penicillata).

ESL may be gone, but its innovations will have a lasting influence on conservation in Australia.

Proo Geddes still emphasises “the importance of having a conservation entity based on outcomes rather than processes”.

Good on ya, Proo.

More on this Australian blog.

Private sector wildlife conservation in Africa

Elephants on Ndarakwai RanchOne of the hopeful developments in Africa has been the growth of private sector conservation initiatives. Most of it has taken place in South Africa. For an example in Tanzania, visit the Ndarakwai Ranch.

The ranch is located on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The owners set up the Kilimanjaro Conservancy to maintain a wildlife conservation area.

Somehow elephants seem much larger when you are walking close to them, than when you are sitting watching them from a 4-weel drive vehicle. Ndarakwai is well worth a visit.