BY HUMPHREY KARIUKI
Africa is the most beautiful and inspiring continent in the world.
Home to iconic and diverse wildlife renowned the world over and made up of spectacular ecosystems extending from deserts to ice-capped mountains, tropical forests to Mediterranean shores, and pristine savannahs to rich ocean reefs.
This natural beauty is unique to our continent and is a proud legacy handed down by generations of Africans who have come before us – a heritage which we all have an obligation and necessity to continue.
But today, Africa is at a pivotal moment in its history.
Development across the continent is bringing millions out of poverty, increasing life expectancies, educating our children and opening up unprecedented opportunities.
But unprecedented demand is also placing unsustainable pressures on the environment.
While we cannot allow our development to be hampered or slowed, as this would only serve to consign millions to continued poverty, we must manage competing priorities and ensure that conservation and development work hand-in-hand.
Because only by protecting some of the world’s most revered ecosystems and wildlife can we provide a long-term legacy for future generations of Africans – one which is capable of both enriching people’s lives and spurring sustainable development.
This is not just a moral legacy but an economic one too.
Our rich biodiversity provides every person with our most basic needs – food and water.
Without which, as too many Africans already know, there is no path out of poverty. And it also provides vast opportunities for millions of jobs and multi-billion-dollar growth, through developing thriving tourism and allied industries based around our natural beauty.
But in order to do any of that we must first build widespread awareness of the need to protect our natural beauty and get as many Africans, especially young people, engaged with this cause as possible.
That is exactly what I am proud to be doing alongside the Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Animal Orphanage, which hosts more than 10,000 children a year. Teaching them about the value of our conservation efforts and in particular our vital work saving the critically endangered Mountain Bongo. As we pray the world emerges from the pandemic at last, may it be every African’s resolution to really understand and value the immense natural heritage our forefathers left us.