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Department of Zoology & Entomology

A recent commentary by Ian Michler of Africa Geographic Magazine

By Ken Ferguson

Posted on 14 February 2011

A recent commentary by Ian Michler of Africa Geographic Magazine (February 2011) has highlighted a major review edited by Ken Ferguson (Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria) and John Hanks (Independent Consultant) on the pros' and cons', in terms of biodiversity conservation, of the erection of park and veterinary disease control fences.

We continually separate ourselves from the natural world which often to us seems full of danger. As agricultural economies develop we feel the need to protect livestock and peoples livelihoods from the threat of disease and other forms of human-wildlife conflict. Fencing is one ancient method of creating an artificial separation of the 'wild' and 'human' domains. A recent commentary by Ian Michler of Africa Geographic Magazine (February 2011) has highlighted a major review edited by Ken Ferguson (Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria) and John Hanks (Independent Consultant) on the pros' and cons', in terms of biodiversity conservation, of the erection of  park and veterinary disease control fences. Wild mammals that need to move to survive (especially migratory grazing antelopes) are prevented from reaching seasonal feeding grounds by these fences – population numbers consequently dwindle resulting in the sedentarization of these much diminished, remnant populations. Rural people too can be affected as access to water and grazing for their animals can be curtailed by fences. The opening of wildlife corridors between African protected areas, which may act as 'evolutionary lifelines'  for many species necessitates the removal of at least some of these fences and a re-think about the need to integrate sustainable wildlife conservation and farming practices to the benefit of both systems.

Readers wishing to access the full document can find it at

http://www.wcs-ahead.org/gltfca_grants/pdfs/ferguson_final_2010.pdf
or
 
www.wcs-ahead.org/gltfca_grants/grants.html

or the link to Ian Michler’s blog in Africa Geographic is http://www.africageographic.com/blogs/?cat=5



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