Kenya and the moral imperative of tourism

We've got to support Kenya tourism. Otherwise the wide open ranges where the lions, tigers and elephants roam will be fenced-in and sold off to farmers. That's the message of an important NY Times article that appeared last week by Jeffrey Gettleman, the reporter who covered the post-election rioting in Kenya for the paper. The warning is ominous, the solution as clear as the African sky:
Tourism could take among the longest to bounce back, because it is especially sensitive to perceptions, and the well-publicized bloodshed of the past two months has badly dented Kenya's image. Last year, the country had more than two million tourists. In January, there were only 55,000 new arrivals, well below projections.

The downturn also threatens to reverse the momentum that Kenya has made in recent years to protect land and animals. Government officials are worried about out-of-work guides and trackers poaching game. Village elders in animal-rich areas who had been persuaded that conservation and tourism would be profitable have been re-examining this equation and considering selling off their land.

Sales mean farms, and farms mean fences, which could block the millions of zebra, wildebeest and antelope that migrate across the famous Masai Mara game reserve each year, possibly endangering one of the most spectacular gatherings of animal life on the planet. "It's absolutely catastrophic," said Calvin Cottar, the owner of an upscale safari camp.
The message couldn't be more clear: to help save the hippos, giraffes, and hyenas, get planning your Kenya safari. And with agencies slashing rates, its never been more affordable. But is it safe? It's safe enough.. Gettleman writes:
The truth is that most of the violence has subsided and it never really touched the tourist areas, like the Masai Mara.

But many Western governments seem to think otherwise. Australia is still warning its citizens traveling to Kenya to stay indoors, not exactly the greatest plug for game watching.
Some risks are worth taking. And governments of rich countries should stop teaching their citizens to behave like scared y-cat ninnies.

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