Verlyn Klinkenborg visits
a luxury game resort in Africa, and wonders at the human cost of setting
aside so much land (over 540 square miles) for game:
At $1,500 a night, Sasakwa is one of the most luxurious resorts in Africa.
Which leaves only a few questions: Do you really need a pedicure after watching
a cheetah with her cubs? And do you judge conservation solely by the good
it does? Or do you judge it by the good it does, divided by the number of
people who are able to witness and directly benefit from it?
What makes these questions more complicated is that Grumeti Reserves borders
the fastest-growing human population anywhere around the Serengeti between
the park and Lake Victoria…
Sasakwa Lodge looks south to the center of the Serengeti ecosystem. The line
of smoke you often see on the southern horizon rises from a firebreak along
the park border. But there are other fires even closer, more and more of them
all the time, the cooking and brick-burning fires of an Africa that has been
kept at bay to leave room for wildlife. To see the smoke from those fires,
you would have to look in a different direction, and no veranda points that
way. So you have another cup of tea and look south again, out at the fullness,
the familiarity of nature.
It’s that "divided by" which gets me: I just can’t fathom what it’s
meant to mean. Does it mean that if you halve the number of beneficiaries you
double the value of the resort? Does it mean that if you successfully manage
to involve "the fastest-growing human population anywhere around the Serengeti"
as part of the resort, then it becomes essentially worthless, since you’re dividing
the value by so many people? Or does it just mean that neither Verlyn Klinkenborg
nor his editors have a single numerate bone in their collective bodies?