An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plants, animals, microorganisms and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.
Central to understanding this is that people are integral parts of ecosystems.
This fact is something the preservationists conveniently overlook, especially when it comes to discussing conservation in Africa.
Ecosystem Services are the benefits that humans derive from the natural environment.
Ecosystems deteriorate in the form of poaching and habitat destruction if we do not place a tangible value on these services.
Payments for ecosystem services involve the users paying the providers of services when they preserve, improve or maintain ecosystem services.
For example, photo tourism and safari hunting pay landowners and communities for the privilege of utilizing the resources.
If we remove safari hunting from the equation, we deny the service providers income, and ecosystem deterioration follows.
Animal rights activists need to acknowledge this fundamental concept if they genuinely want to contribute to African conservation.