The UK’s most recent IUCN member, the Margaret Pyke Trust, has published what is likely the first ever paper making the connections between human reproductive health and rights and the conservation of a specific species – the cheetah. In “The importance of human reproductive health and rights for cheetah conservation” the Margaret Pyke Trust, and their partner NGO, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, consider the connections between barriers to family planning information and services, and the population growth which results from that, in cheetah range states. As stated in the paper, there are a multitude of factors to consider when designing conservation programmes, from the onset of local climate change impacts, to human land use and human population densities in areas of cheetah conservation significance. Increased human populations mean there is an increased need for more farmland for agriculture, more land for ranching, more infrastructure and roads, and hence, more vehicles. Almost inevitably, this results in more instances of human-wildlife conflict, an increase in demand for bush-meat, and increasing habitat encroachment. Human population size is only one of many relevant issues, but an especially relevant one.
David Johnson, the Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust, explained that by joining the Trust’s Population & Sustainability Network, and co-publishing the paper, the Cheetah Conservation Fund had joined a growing number of conservation organisations recognising the importance of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the communities with which they work for conservation policy and programme design. David concluded that the significance of the paper was because, “Programmes integrating family planning improvements with conservation actions have been demonstrated to have greater conservation, health and gender outcomes than traditional single sector ‘health’ or ‘conservation’ programmes, and yet this approach is not widely implemented.” Interest in these integrated “Population, Health and Environment” conservation programmes appears to be gaining traction with conservation NGOs at the moment, with the Cheetah Conservation Fund the latest NGO to be convinced of its merits.
This is perhaps the first time a paper making the connections between human reproductive health and rights and the conservation of a specific species has been published.
Read the paper: “The importance of human reproductive health and rights for cheetah conservation.”