In efforts to protect the Silverback gorillas living in the rain forest, a native indigenous group called The Batwa was removed from their land in 1991. Today, The Batwa are still not allowed to return to their native land to live. Instead, they have been hired as tour leaders and take groups of tourists through their land, pointing out the ways they used to live: the plants they ate, the tree barks they harvested, etc. and they are doing all of this for $3.25 (out of the sum of each $80 ticket) a day, and they only get paid when there are tourists to guide.
The Batwa people were nomads, living off what they had and moving through the forest as a group. They lived as hunter-gatherers and their way of life was untouched by the technology that has become such a huge part of our own lives, which was until the National Parks removed them from this land.
Should The Batwa have the rights to live off the land that they once called home? Or should national parks have the right to evict them from the land that they have claimed in order to protect endangered plants and animals?
Now, the Batwa people are living off of hardly anything. They are not adapted to this new, and definitely more modern, lifestyle that has been forced upon them and, in an article by Orion Magazine, it was noted that the Batwa have been seen stepping in front of moving vehicles as they did not know what vehicles are (Dowie). Threatening the existence of one group in order to save another is unethical, and that is exactly what is happening in this situation.
While the Batwa people are offered jobs, they are not paid nearly enough to survive, even if they were adapted to their new lifestyle. I propose that the eviction of the Batwa should be reworked. I believe that the Batwa should have the rights to their land, seeing as it was, in fact, their land to begin with. In order to save the gorillas in the area, I think that we need to step back and look at the situation. If the Batwa hunt all of the gorillas, they will no longer have that species as a source of food. If they are to be responsible for the extinction of the Silverback gorillas, they need to be the ones to understand what they are doing. We are killing thousands of animals everyday with our lifestyles; the consumption rates and pollution levels in the United Sates alone have a huge affect on animals. Look at the polar bears! And we do not go in to areas and say, “Okay, fox! You’ve eaten too many of these rabbits so it is time for you to leave.” The actions of the national parks have been contradictory and this needs to be understood in order for the Batwa to get their land back.
Burnett, John. “Forest People Return To Their Land… As Tour Guides.” NPR. 12 Oct 2012: n. page. Web. 10 May. 2013. <http://www.npr.org/2012/10/12/161885322/forest-people-return-to- their-land-as-tour-guides>.
Dowie, Mark. “Conservation Refugees.” Orion Magazine. Nov 2005: n. page. Web. 10 May. 2013. <http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/161/>.