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Preserving Africa's Jungles: An Economic Opportunity

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

Few places in the world are as good for ogling wildlife as the remote jungle where the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo meet. Now the three countries have established adjoining national parks the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It's part of a growing trend that deserves strong support from the West: poor countries seeking economic opportunities by protecting nature rather than pillaging it. If the gorillas can lure rich Westerners, eco-tourism could become more sustainable than logging. Many Africans resent the parks, which allocate vast resources to saving animals in regions where humans routinely die for lack of a few dollars. But experts say conservation benefits people, too: For example, the World Wildlife Fund has hired 31 local Bayaka Pygmies as trackers and guides.

—Nicholas D. Kristof [9/26/06]