2.3.6. Wildlife, Tourism, and Recreation
Tourism-one of Africa's most promising and fastest-growing industries (about
15% per year)-is based on wildlife and water supply for recreation. Recurrent
droughts in the past decade have depleted wildlife resources significantly.
Permanent loss of such attractions would waste vast amounts of investment in
tourism. The greatest impacts would occur in drought-prone areas of the Sahel,
east Africa, and southern Africa.
High levels of floral and faunal species diversity exist in various reserved
areas in relict, fragmented patches of natural vegetation. Most wildlife is
in reserved areas surrounded by human land use (agriculture). This fragmentation
and concentration of animals in specific areas make them highly vulnerable because
vegetation (habitat) will not respond quickly enough to changed climate, and
wildlife will be unable to migrate to more suitable climatic conditions because
of limited corridors between wildlife reserves in different vegetation and climate
types; moreover, wildlife would be slow in responding to a changing habitat
boundary (see Section 126.96.36.199).
Climate change will impact the tourism industry indirectly through changes
in water and vegetation, as well as through wider-scale socioeconomic changes-for
example, fuel prices and patterns of demand for specific activities or destinations.
Various indirect impacts also may derive from changes in landscape-the "capital"
of tourism (Krippendorf, 1984)-which might lead potential tourists to perceive
Africa as less attractive and consequently to seek new locations elsewhere.
There also may be new competition from other tourist locations as climates change
(particularly on seasonal time frames), especially in relation to northern vacation
Tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls could become much less attractive
as a result of reduced river discharge and alteration of the rainforest. Hydrology
models for tropical savanna Africa suggest reduced runoff as a result of climate
change (Hulme, 1996a). The tourist impacts of these changes will include alteration
of characteristics of popular tourist destinations. In the 1992 drought period,
Victoria Falls lost some of its attractiveness as a result of much reduced water
discharge over the falls. Furthermore, the reduced flow resulted in reduction
of the spray that maintains the rainforest that is part of Victoria Falls' aura-resulting
in the death of flora around the falls.
In southern and eastern Africa, there are a variety of water-based tourist
activities-such as sailing, skiing, angling, rafting, and so forth. Such activities
could be affected by changes in river flows and the impacts of land use (especially
agriculture) on water quality-such as eutrophication, which gives rise to objectionable
blue-green algae and a proliferation of aquatic weeds (such as Eichhornia and
Salvinia). These developments will compromise the aesthetic value of tourist
destinations. Many reservoirs in Africa (such as Lake Victoria and the Nile
Sudd) are under threat. In addition to their tourist value, these inland waters
in Africa are a source of protein. Many water bodies in Africa show very high
sensitivity to changes in runoff. Inland drainage systems-such as Lake Chad,
the east African Rift Valley lakes (e.g., Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha), and other
shallow water bodies such as Lake Chilwa and the Okovango delta-have a delicate
hydrological balance. Complete drying of the lake recently occurred at Lake
Chilwa in Malawi and Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Magadza (1984, 1996) has suggested
that fish production in large reservoirs such as Lake Kariba can be significantly
affected by decreased runoff because of reduced nutrient inflow.
The wetlands of Africa-such as the Okovango delta, the Kafue River floodplains,
and Lake Bangweulu-have rich and varied wild fauna and are especially conspicuous
for their avifauna. Magadza (1996) shows how the gradual drying of the Caprivi
Strip wetlands resulted in a population reduction of the wetland vertebrates
and the complete disappearance of some species from the area. Such aridification
of wetlands has been followed by encroachment of human cultivation.
The destruction of coastal infrastructure, sandy beaches and barriers, and
marine ecosystems would have negative impacts on tourism in these areas (Okoth-Ogendo
and Ojwang, 1995). This effect could be exacerbated by disturbances in the pattern
of human settlements in coastal zones and the general loss of environmental
|Figure 2-14: Lake Kariba water storage 1990-91 to 1995-96 (Hulme,
Many tourist facilities (such as hotels) have been invested on inland lakeshores
and reservoirs-such as Midmar Reservoir in South Africa, Lake Malawi, Lake Chad,
Lake Victoria, and several other lakes in the Rift Valley in east Africa. In
some cases, there also are downstream facilities, such as those on the Shire
River and Liwonde. Past drought episodes have demonstrated that fluctuations
in lake levels affect the quality of services that the lakeside resorts offer;
the water level may recede a considerable distance from the facility. Lake Kariba
currently is 13 m below its storage-capacity level; services such as dry-dock
facilities have lain idle for several years. Figure 2-14
shows the changes in water level of Lake Kariba during the 1991-92 drought period.
Where the lake is the primary source of an effluent river, river-based tourist
facilities would be similarly prejudiced by lower lake levels. Such impacts
would be more pronounced on reservoirs that combine other activities (e.g.,
irrigation or hydroelectric power generation) with tourism.
An assessment of how the whole natural environment and wildlife might be susceptible
to climate change should be an integral part of environment planning (Mkanda,
1996). A number of sub-Saharan countries regard the conservation of biological
diversity (wildlife) together with agriculture and tourism activities as an
important win-win solution to the nature resource that also offers a major source
of much-needed revenue (World Bank, 1996). In a report on wildlife conservancies
in Zimbabwe, Price Waterhouse (1994) demonstrated that wildlife presented the
best land-use options in semi-arid parts of southeast Zimbabwe. This application,
in the Gonarezhou nature reserve, has been facilitated by an appropriate legal
framework in Zimbabwe-based on the Parks and Wildlife Act, which essentially
confers stewardship of wildlife on landowners.