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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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   Table of Contents - Current issue
July-September 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 3
Page Nos. 227-317

Online since Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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Resisting Extinction: Purple Martins, Death, and the Future Highly accessed article p. 227
Lori L Jervis, Paul Spicer, William C Foster, Jeffrey Kelly, Eli Bridge
As a result of anthropogenically induced habitat destruction and climate change, the Eastern Purple Martin in North America has been transformed into a “backyard bird,” dependent on a network of “landlords” for nesting structures and protection from competitor species. While the orthodox approach to wildlife conservation tends to promote the continued existence of appropriate habitats, the conservation of the Eastern Purple Martin has hinged upon the continued existence of a specific human cultural behaviour. This landlording subculture, however, is now believed to be waning due to the aging demographics of the landlords themselves, threatening the long-term survival of the species. This article focuses on the relationships between 24 landlords—primarily older, white, southern US men—and their avian charges. The long-term bond between the birds and their human keepers meant that the landlords were confronting not only their own mortality but also the extinction of the birds to which they have devoted themselves. Their continuing struggles to recruit younger generations into landlording suggest the need for new models of martin conservation that can appeal to the post-domestic and internet savvy sensibilities of today's youth.
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Negotiating the Taskscape. Relocating Human – Environmental Relationships in Conservation Proposals around Palm Forests in Uruguay p. 236
Juan Martin Dabezies
Butia odorata palm forests of southern Uruguay face conservation problems. This species is the identity benchmark of the region and it represents an important source of income for local people who make food products to sell to tourists. To prevent the disappearance of the Butiá forests, different proposals have been developed to protect the ecosystem. These proposals focus on arguments such as aesthetic beauty and ecosystem services from a naturalistic perspective. Following the concept of taskscape developed by Ingold, T, I propose an alternative way of negotiating conservation of the Butiá landscape in terms of the overlap of features, affordances, tasks and temporality of the Butiá life.
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Ontological Politics of Wildlife: Local People, Conservation Biologists and Guanacos p. 250
Robert Petitpas, Cristian Bonacic
In this article, we analyse the politics behind human-wildlife relations, based on the different understanding of guanacos by local people and conservationists in Northern Chile. We use a political ontology framework to study the interactions between different ontologies of wildlife. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews, field observations, documents analyses, and personal experience in guanaco conservation research. The relation between guanacos and local people is characterised by frequent and material encounters and the presence of the animal in the domestic sphere through multiple uses. The conservationists account of guanacos is characterised by spatial distribution, population size, habitat, and threat assessments, and the application of universal categories to classify this species. These different relationships with guanacos are related to two different ontologies of wildlife. For conservationists, the nature-society dichotomy is clear— guanacos are defined in a nature without humans, and in order to protect them they should be kept away from human activities. On the contrary, for local people, nature and society are not worlds apart. Guanacos are neither totally wild nor totally domestic. Understanding these differences is important because these ontologies interact and affect each other. In this case, the conservationist ontology was dominant over the local one. Also, the interactions between ontologies affect and are affected by conservation action, and by the general socio-political context. A better understanding of local ontologies is an important step to improve the relationship between conservationists and local communities.
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Outside the Frame: Looking Beyond the Myth of Garamba's LRA Ivory–Terrorism Nexus p. 258
Kristof Titeca, Patrick Edmond
There have been widespread reports of elephant poaching by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Garamba National Park (GNP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), presenting a narrative that ivory poaching funds terror and that both can be solved by the same (military) intervention. This narrative distorts the complex dynamics. It identifies clear villains, edits out other poaching actors, and legitimises particular interventions. Poaching is portrayed as a moral, non-political issue and military intervention is portrayed as a logical outcome. The wider history and current context are neglected. The LRA's poaching threat, relative to other actors, is overemphasised. It ignores how the LRA poaching—real as it was—fits into a history of poaching caused by problems with state capacity and territorial control, including incursions by armed actors. The situation demands solutions that are more complex than merely defeating the LRA. More so, military intervention against the LRA has worsened poaching, due to state military implications in poaching. The article shows how the 'LRA ivory–terrorism' narrative is a discursive tool for particular agendas, which primarily allow particular interventions, legitimisation of resources, or wider readership. In this way, the actors involved create their own echo-chamber, which is less concerned with local dynamics and which does not include practical conservation actors in Garamba. The narrative has also begun to shift.
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Reclaim Conservation: Conservation Discourse and Initiatives of the Rondas Campesinas, North-Eastern Peru p. 270
Noga Shanee
Global conservation fails to stop or, as in most cases, even reduce the rapidly intensifying extinction crisis. Hence, alternatives to current dominant conservation ideologies and practices need to be explored. The Rondas Campesinas (Peasant Patrols) drive the largest and most influential grassroots movement in northeastern Peru, one of the most biodiverse and environmentally-threatened places on Earth. The environment is of paramount importance to the Rondas Campesinas and plays a central role in their culture. Rondas Campesinas members take on dynamic roles as leaders and initiators of conservation efforts in their local area, including creation of reserves, implementation of control of natural resource use and transnational extractive operations, and environmental education. This article argues that, although inexperienced, the Rondas Campesinas provide a template for effective in-situ conservation solutions, while highlighting the shortfalls of current mainstream conservation.
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Towards Convivial Conservation p. 283
Bram Büscher, Robert Fletcher
Environmental conservation finds itself in desperate times. Saving nature, to be sure, has never been an easy proposition. But the arrival of the Anthropocene - the alleged new phase of world history in which humans dominate the earth-system seems to have upped the ante dramatically; the choices facing the conservation community have now become particularly stark. Several proposals for revolutionising conservation have been proposed, including 'new' conservation, 'half Earth' and more. These have triggered heated debates and potential for (contemplating) radical change. Here, we argue that these do not take political economic realities seriously enough and hence cannot lead us forward. Another approach to conservation is needed, one that takes seriously our economic system's structural pressures, violent socio-ecological realities, cascading extinctions and increasingly authoritarian politics. We propose an alternative termed 'convivial conservation'. Convivial conservation is a vision, a politics and a set of governance principles that realistically respond to the core pressures of our time. Drawing on a variety of perspectives in social theory and movements from around the globe, it proposes a post-capitalist approach to conservation that promotes radical equity, structural transformation and environmental justice and so contributes to an overarching movement to create a more equal and sustainable world.
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Conserving Poverty: Destructive Fishing Gear Use in a Tanzanian Marine Protected Area p. 297
Justin Raycraft
Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork, this paper attends to the persistent use of Destructive Fishing Gear (DFG) in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in southeastern Tanzania. Based on participant observation, document analysis, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions conducted with villagers, I argue that the MPA has failed to eliminate the use of DFG because of its inability to address the historically-embedded political, economic, and sociocultural dimensions of DFG use in the inshore fishery. I contend that pre-existing and conservation-induced conditions of poverty drive the continued use of DFG inside the MPA. Such circumstances are framed by colonial and post-independence state-level development policies. They are also textured by breakdowns in customary marine tenure practices, changing beliefs about which types of fishing gear villagers consider to be traditional, and community-defined moral rights to fish for the fulfilment of basic material needs. I maintain that MPAs must take into account the anthropological complexities of poverty if they are to be effective.
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The Wake of the Whale p. 310
Benedict Singleton
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The Patagonian Sublime: The Green Economy and Post-Neoliberal Politics p. 312
Suchismita Das
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Shooting a Tiger: Big-game Hunting and Conservation in Colonial India p. 314
Tresa Abraham
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Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas: Governance, Management and Policy p. 316
Shonil Bhagwat
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