By Duncan Mboyah The spread of invasive alien species is now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of the planet. They are creating a complex and far reaching challenges threatening both the natural and biological riches, and the wellbeing of the people.
This is according to Dr Dennis Rangi, the director general of Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) who emphasizes that direct and indirect effects are increasingly serious and damage to native biodiversity is often irreversible,” he says during a recent workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya on invasive species in Africa in Nairobi.
The scientist said that the invasive species are also responsible for tremendous economic losses through loss in forest and agricultural productivity, spread of diseases that impact livestock, wildlife and humans.
“Governments need stakeholder approach through public-private sector involvement to fight this slowly emerging global problem,” he adds.
Arne Wilt, CABI’s Invasive Species Coordinator attributes the increasing intercommunity and human-wildlife conflicts in Africa has been to the increase of invasive species.
Wilt observes that the invasions by the species in adjoining agro-ecosystems reduce crop and pasture production hence forcing some communities to encroach into others land.
“Pastoralists-farmers conflicts have grown, spread and are intensifying over the past decade hence posing a threat to security in some countries. Therefore coordination across sectors within the countries is important in the fight against these species and there is need to enact policies and strategies to help reduce the negative impacts,” he noted.
He observed that thousands of farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an orgy of killings and destruction that is not only destroying livelihoods but also affecting national cohesion.
“This happens because the invasive species that encroaches into their land, takes large hectares of land forcing them to relocate to neighboring farms hence causing conflicts including forcing wildlife to forage on people’s farms resulting in increased human-wildlife conflict” Wilt explained.
The result is that the scale of loss of both herds and human life has been escalating and the victims are on all sides – subsistence farmers, commercial farmers and pastoralists. He said that the problem has been more pronounced in Nigeria and Kenya, amongst other countries.
Hiver Boussini, animal health officer, with the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) said that livestock production is affected when invasive weeds colonise prime grazing land; this drives farmers into marginal areas for them to take their herds long distances to find fodder.
“Competition for access to resources and fear of the plant and disease spreading across the area leads to conflicts between communities which is also linked to reduction of grazing areas, water point and income from livestock leading to conflict, social instability, economic growth and poverty reduction.
Boussini says that elephant human conflict in Central Kenya is an example of conflict caused by invasive species adding that the presence of Opuntia stricta some type of thorny cactus or prickly pears forces the wildlife to move to peoples farms. “It is time that the African governments to allocate funds for the eradication of invasive species,” he added