White Man’s Conservation

More and more is being published about the historical inequities of the Protected Areas systems especially in developing countries.  Two new books have come out in the past year, one written by African conservation professionals so a self reflection.

WWF has also been questioned about its compliance with its own indigenous peoples’s policy.  Survival International took WWF to the OECD over the failure to respect central African Indigenous Peoples rights — of the pgymies, who include the MBenga (Batwa, Baka, Aka) Mbuti (Efi), and Twa.  These talks have recently broken down

Survival–WWF OECD talks break down over tribal consent

And here the reviews of the two recent books:

Why are all the black faces in conservation in the background?

Wrong Kind of Green

Recently two books were published.  Big Conservation Lie by two Kenyan biologists: Mordecai Ogada and John Mbaria.  Ogada had his ‘epiphany’ when having a cocktail at a tourism lodge in Kenya and hearing one of his white hosts say, “we will have to move that Masai village, it is spoiling the view”.  Mbaria had his when he realized that white conservationists including those residents of his country continued to place the blame for species loss on black Africans avoiding any responsibility for their colonial past and ignoring the fact that the only reason there were parks to gazette in the first place was the collective stewardship of generations of black Africans.  Big Conservation Lie questions the whole model of fortress conservation and conservation paid by tourism that displaces native peoples. “How did wildlife survive for millennia in Kenya rangelands together with people who never earned anything from it?”

The second book, White Man’s Game, by Stephanie Hayes, looks at the history of conservation of an emblematic national park, Gorgongosa, in Botswana and the continued failure to find a rights-based model for its administration — in her assessment due to the ‘outsider’s conservation model’ that persists in the sub-continent.  Once decimated by civil war, Gorgongosa National Park was nearly devoid of much of its larger animal species– when an ambitious pro-conservation, multi-millionaire began to invest in a new management model that is seen as a success by one segment of the conservation community and as a human rights travesty and failure by another.

Both books deserve a serious read.  As well as focused attention to the rights of Mbenga, Mbuti, and Twa in the Protected Areas of Central Africa.



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