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Stranger than Fiction | Matt Kriese

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

I’am hard-pressed to think of reasons as to why a critique of nature preservations is necessary. Through this preservation, countless species of plants and animals have been saved for the pleasure of public viewing; however, there are repercussions to preservation that are almost invisible to the public at large.

In fact, there is a surprising human cost to the preservation of large stretches of land otherwise untouched by mankind. A horrifying article was published in the German publication Der Spiegel mentioning that a natural reserve in the eastern region of the Congo, which is the home of a large indigenous population of the Batwa tribe, was directly responsible for the death of one of these tribesmen. This tribesman, named Christian Nakulire, was shot to death by park rangers while he walked through the park in an attempt to find healing herbs to treat his younger brother’s diarrhea.

The Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is largely funded by the German government. Because of this, the majority of visitors to the park hail from Western European states including France, the Netherlands, the U.K., and of course Germany. The parks’ natural splendor and beauty leaves visitors breathless. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization describes the park as, “A vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two spectacular extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega, the park has a diverse and abundant fauna.”

It is strange that the beauty described by the U.N. outweighs the value of human lives; but, this injustice is also seen in the U.S. There are 84.9 million acres of land specifically in the National Park Service, yet only 56.2 million acres are held in trust by the United States for various Indian tribes and individuals.

While I believe that the protection of nature and all of its splendor is a valiant use of public money, I cannot subscribe to the idea that this protection of land is more valuable than the protection of human lives. It is time to begin reflecting heavily on morals with which we create our laws and re-prioritizing human beings.

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