Conservation through a political lens: the common denominator between wildlife management in Africa and Nevada

I followed some Nevada discussions About the wildlife groups and Governance issues Carefully. I am a historian, and I study wildlife conservation. My search for eastern and southern Africa, away from Nevada from a geographical perspective. However, viewing the Nevada debates through a historical lens, even those rooted in Africa in the 1920s and 1970s, reveals some highlights.

Major issues in Nevada relate to representation on the bodies that make up the state’s wildlife policy. (The Stream He indicated that A strong Wildlife Commission must have “five ‘athletes’, i.e. hunters, poachers or poachers…one farmer, one farmer, one conservationist and one member of the public”).control” (in another meaning execution), Different Rhetorical claims about animals and the places where they liveThe Balance between development and conservationand increase capabilities A collision or conflict between humans and wildlife. These have been and still are equally controversial issues in most African countries with large numbers of wild animals. With larger and therefore potentially more dangerous omnivores and herbivores, a larger rural population, and a history of conservation marred by racism and colonial violence (which shapes conservation perceptions to the present), the scale of the problems is arguably greater in Africa. Species or population extinction, ecosystem integrity, and regulation or prohibition of trade in certain animal products also loom large in Africa as major conservation issues. Trophy hunting (particularly for international visitors) is still a lucrative business in some nations, while subsistence hunting is often viewed with minimal tolerance, leading to inequality and resentment based on race and class.

From the colonial era to the present, management agencies and the political discourse surrounding wildlife conservation in Africa have given certain interests significant leverage over others. The same can be said to be true in Nevada. In Africa, this meant white settlers and colonial officials who were not accountable to the majority of the African population during the colonial era, and foreign donors and conservationists during the post-independence period. In Nevada, rather than defining interests strictly along racial or “national” lines, a particular set of interests – hunting and fishing communities in particular – seem to exert influence beyond their numbers, effectively claiming that animals are “game” or “insects”, instead of “wildlife” or “biodiversity” (although they use the term “wildlife”). Therefore, in both cases, the majority communities in the respective regions struggled to have their voices heard. Interestingly, the large rural communities in Africa that were most strongly influenced by wildlife policy were those marginalized, while the small rural communities most likely to have contact with wildlife in Nevada dominate policy making through the Wildlife Commission, leaving the urban majority And suburbs have different views on conservation. Politics in a smaller voice.

Both spaces were and are shaped by diverse interests and forms of government. While most African countries do not fully replicate the contentious distribution of power between the state and the federal government, most countries have multiple agencies tasked with managing animal populations with different—but overlapping and sometimes conflicting—tasks for different areas and/or classes of animals. For example, game departments and national park agencies simply did not manage various tracts; They also have different sensitivities, represent different classes, and evoke different sciences. They even called the animals different things: “toy” in the case of the former; “Wildlife” in the latter case. Wildlife departments in Africa also operated – before and after independence – with reference to other types of governance structures. Among these were the powerful officials of the region; customary authorities such as chiefs; and other “technical” departments that dealt with issues such as forestry, hydrology, public health and public works.

This means that marginalized communities in Africa have some other channels through which to advocate for controls on policies produced by minorities. County officials who were not interested in conservation but were concerned with maintaining rural order backed down on conservation policy when it gave too much protection in too many places to dangerous animals. Presidents often did the same. This means that the ground-level dynamics – if not the rhetoric – of wildlife conservation probably better reflect the complex politics of these lands, forcing politics to negotiate, albeit through politics skewed by racial hierarchies and the absence of genuine civic debate.

One consequence was that the resulting policy often lacked consistency, and once international donors entered the equation in the 1960s, they were often able to use their money and the political clout that goes with it to isolate policymaking from broader audiences. They did so in a political environment increasingly defined by the flaws of democracy. In Nevada, politics is set in a deserted political landscape, often by the Wildlife Commission rather than the part-time legislature, which has been unable sequentially to control in a coherent manner any of the big issues facing the state.

Conservation through a political lens

And politics is important. Conservation interests in East Africa during the 1950s, fearing the racist narratives they developed about African peoples that independence would mean the slaughter of wildlife on the continent, began to create structures, institutions, relationships and financing mechanisms to protect the conservation sector primarily in Africa from the interference of elected African governments Democrats, which began to come to power in the 1960s. The results were multifaceted. For one thing, making conservation a non-political enclave supposedly governed by outside interests delegitimized many conservation spaces and some conservation policies in the eyes of new citizens, maintaining, rather than eliminating, the alienation from conservation issues that colonialism produced among Africans. masses. Another consequence of the deliberate effort to avoid the entanglement of wildlife issues in small or big politics has been the assumption that science can yield policy recommendations.

But the scientists who landed in the gardens of Africa in the 1960s generated data, rather than policy recommendations. Science can provide the parameters, but the government and the public it serves must still ask the right questions and interpret scientific data with reference to public policy priorities and the clamor of the various interests invested in conservation. In other words, it was still important to have a robust debate involving a representative section of the public. And in the absence of that, a state of political paralysis has occurred. Rangeland management and conservation biology can tell very different stories about a park or ecosystem, or national wildlife ownership, giving African governments a range of options. But making a policy choice still requires looking at conservation from a political perspective and adjudicating different claims regarding wildlife, the short- and long-term trade-offs, and the relationship between wildlife and larger environmental policy goals.

The result of protecting the conservation sector from public debate and commissioning study after study without wanting to act on scientific data regarding clearly stated public policy, which in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park during the 1950s and 1960s, led to the outrageous spectacle of wildlife officers treating marginalized populations Brutally bordering the park for being complicit in poaching, with thousands of animals killed within the park to maintain a supposed state of ecological balance based on a misreading of decades-old data. Policy makers realized the absurdity of their work, but were consumed by wars of influence between various global financiers, and thus proved unable to foster a serious debate among the citizens of Kenya about the place of acceptable uses and responsibilities towards the country’s wildlife.

Even after independence, most African nations showed little interest in engaging customary authorities in wildlife management, or looking to the pre-colonial past for models of management or coexistence. (The ethnic and historical diversity within the borders drawn by European colonizers meant that there were challenges in trying to identify a single representative model.) Similarly in Nevada, there does not appear to be an interest in seeking input from any kind of indigenous community. While there will be no individual agreement between past practice and current policy, alternative sensibilities and habits of mind may shape conservation policy in productive ways.

It would be tempting for the urban majority in Nevada to simply steer clear of bodies of wildlife, as representation skews significantly toward hunting and fishing interests. But managing the strict majority of Nevada’s wildlife may not be a good idea either, and input from rural communities, whether through legislators or reconfigured management bodies, is important. However, the state’s wildlife policy-making apparatus needs an overhaul. The current wildlife management structure seeks to frame its claims without reference to complex state policies, population diversity, or any notable overarching set of conservation policy objectives. Conservation science and management invoke intermittently and opportunistically, rather than seeking to develop public policy that is informed consistently and purposefully by wildlife ecology and conservation biology. Its current composition and practice come close to privatizing wildlife ownership in Nevada, at a time when the state is changing rapidly, and it needs to reconcile its wildlife policy with conservation imperatives and goals.

One reason why wildlife conservation in eastern and southern Africa remains a fraught, chaotic and sometimes violent endeavor has to do with powerful interests that dominated the sector during the colonial years that refused to cede power and incorporate new citizens and interests into decision-making processes. The colonial legacy that continues to shape Africa’s wildlife politics—by continuity in politics or the strength of people’s memories—is far from an ideal analogy for Nevada’s exotic wildlife boards and departments. But it is a reminder that if wildlife policy is protected from decision-making and input that reflects the totality of the public interest, the animals, the land, and ultimately the integrity of conservation-related projects and governance will suffer.