The media generally and social media in particular are awash with blogs, articles and comments on the catastrophic effect of Chinese traditional medicine on wildlife. Although African traditional medicine is every bit as destructive of wildlife conservation, strangely enough, it escapes the media frenzy enjoyed by its Chinese counterpart.
This post by Brian Gaisford draws attention to the grim market in South Africa, typified by the Mai Mai and Faraday muti markets in Johannesburg. As you can see body parts of every imaginable species, endangered or not, are publicly displayed and traded day in and day out. Mass poisonings of carcasses and water supplies are the commonest methods used by the suppliers to the counterpart of the Chinese traditional medicine practitioner, here called the Sangoma.
Wildlife conservation officials in South Africa would rather break their necks then even look sideways, let alone control, this macabre market. So the markets function openly and freely without the slightest regard for the law or conservation.
I have spent the last 20 years odd trying to raise awareness of the existential danger to conservation caused by the hunting fraternity. The focus is on the sordid commercial exploitation of helpless animals.
The Muti markets are every bit as damaging to conservation as hunting. Perhaps even more so.
So why is there a deafening silence in the media on this crucial environmental issue? Why is it legitimate to attack the hunting industry and Chinese traditional medicine but not to expose the terrible muti markets? I have raised this matter directly with conservation officials and the answers that I always get confirm my worst fears: that political correctness trumps survival of species.
The sangomas and their arcane muti concoctions are regarded as a sacred cow because they are part of African culture. Anyone who seeks to expose the damage to wildlife conservation caused by allowing this terrible business to function without restraint, will surely attract the epithets most commonly levelled at true conservationists in Africa:
1.that we put animals above people
2.that we are racist, privileged, radical, extremist, and even, terrorist.
3.That we seek to impose an alien Western culture upon African culture
4.that African wildlife belongs to Africans, not to the world, and we should accept, to use the exact words used by former South African president Jacob Zuma, that “compassion for animals is un-African”.
No doubt the sangomas and African politicians will fight just as furiously as traditional Chinese medical practitioners to protect and preserve their culture.
However, in the interests of avoiding extinctions, a rigorous public debate on the issue might lead to some kind of compromise and some semblance of control.
Here is what Brian Gaisford posted:
I expect all my S African followers saw the CARTE BLANCH bit on wildlife trade lastnt. Lente Roode from her HOETSPRUIT ENDANGERED SPECIES CENTER was a big focus. What makes me mad is that she allowed me to bring Prof Mary Ting to her conference theater to talk on Chinas lust for wildlife .2018. When she was doing exactly what we were trying to expose & stop.
As many know, i have been rampaging to shut down the two WET MARKEST in downtown Johannesburg.The MAI MAI & FARADY , starting way back in 2014 with no success and all the time wondering where all the spotted cat skins came from. Our first count was 80 leopard and 15 cheetah and slowly the leopard skins decreased but cheetah skins increased until in Feb 2020 we counted 80 Cheetah and 15 leopard including mountains of every animal body part one could think of. We even took NAT GEO to view and photograph all. Sad to say they are still sitting on their pictures. WHY ?I think i know .
80 cheetah skins are far to many to have come from the wild. So where are they coming from? You tell me.
They have even skinned poisoned vultures under our cameras.With the blood flowing into the main str of JHB.The dried out brains are sold to China to increase eyesight and to see into the future.I ate some and i see what is going to happen if we don't shut down all WET MARKETS.
These WET MARKETS are open to the public and the MAI MAI is listed as a tourist attraction. How nuts is that. Lets show off to the world how we kill our animals and sell their body parts in SA.We should be very proud of that. China sends much of this back to their trade and lust for wildlife beliefs in China & Vietnam.These market operate with impunity as they are listed as so call HEALERS MARKETS.
Yes the herbal potions may work but the spotted cat skins are sold off to tribal chief to wear. OK in the old days when we had less chiefs and more cats. Now it is severest & every one thinks they are a chief if the wear some sort of spotted cat skin.
Our next CORONA outbreak may well burst out of one of our very own markets in downtown Johannesburg S Africa. Two years back we warned of this C thing and here it is.
BE WARNED we are going to be hit again.