National Parks in Savannah Africa

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Science  22 Dec 1972:
Vol. 178, Issue 4067, pp. 1255-1263
DOI: 10.1126/science.178.4067.1255


A national park is as integral to its regional environment as it is to the nation. Whether one wants to manage it that way or not, a park is dependent on the resources—human and physiobiological—of the environs, just as the environs are modified by the park's existence. This view may not jibe with the spirit of those who strive to protect a patch of old-time Africa as a refuge of serenity and stability in a world of tumult and change. But the park has its own ecology, just as does any creature within it, although the park's, being more abstract, is more difficult to discern. Planned or not, a park's future is even more enmeshed with the region's future than with the nation's. The ramifications of this relationship, especially the socioeconomic ones, are not always recognized, with the result that the enmeshing process sometimes sounds like a crunching of the gears. The worlds on both sides of the park boundary would get along better if there were a clear indication of what each can do for the other. By contrast, if they spend their energy resisting one another, there is little doubt as to which must be the ultimate "winner."