Common Concerns: Wildlife Conservation and the Loss of Social Sustainability

ROOM: CC, Room 21
This session focuses on the relationship between ?commons?, wildlife conservation, and gendered labor. In light of current models and policies of wildlife conservation, we seek alternatives that recognize the centrality of human social conditions, values, aptitudes, and attitudes in determining effective conservation practices, and the effects of current practices on different sectors of the local people, including gender-specific and sociocultural implications. In particular, enclosure ? the separation of local residents from the common lands they have traditionally used for sustenance ? has a long history and consistent record of negative impact across historical and geographic locations. Session participants will consider the long-standing practice of ?commoning? and enclosure, its effects on social structures and interactions, its impact on the relationship to land and natural assets, and its ineffectiveness as a strategy for protecting wildlife. By situating current practices in Africa and other contemporary contexts in relation to the deeper history of commoning and enclosure in feudal Europe and other historical sites, we aim to reveal similarities across time and location in assumptions about improvement and ?effective use?, and in causal and correlative relationships linked to the elimination of access to commons.

8:10AM Suppression, Oppression, Exclusion, and Illusion: Policy Problems and Prejudices in Wildlife Conservation
  Mordecai Ogada
This presentation will explore the origins of ‘community based conservation’ in East Africa and it’s ambivalent, if not exploitative relationship with local African communities. This presentation will also examine how Government agencies are being co-opted into the ‘community conservancy’ movement and abdicating their role to NGOs, including the operation of armed security forces. Millions of dollars have been granted to private NGOs established by foreigners to run ‘anti-poaching’ or ‘wildlife security’ operations. As a result, Kenya has seen the increasing militarization of conservation practice outside the remit of statutory authorities operating in the country, often under the command of foreign civilians. This presentation will also include issues around the exclusion of local communities from their lands in the name of conservation and the tourist market’s desire for the paradigm of ‘wilderness Africa’ devoid of human presence. This desire, in turn is driven by the narrative in wildlife films, which are almost devoid of (black) human presence. It will also explore the other interests that may be concealed by the community conservation ‘cloak’ and why the threat of armed conflict grows with the spread of this model, fueled by remarkable levels of foreign governmental and private interest funding. This is illustrated by the close collaboration between energy development interests and conservation NGOs, particularly in Northern Kenya. The net effect of this has been the disenfranchisement of the local pastoralist communities, resulting in the violent resource conflict witnessed in Northern Kenya in 2017.
8:30AM Saving Africa from Africans: Resisting colonial models of conservation around Kenya’s Nyandarwa Forest
  Kendi Kendi Borona
The Nyandarwa [Aberdare] forest is one of the key five forested ecosystems in Kenya. It is surrounded by the Agikuyu people on whose traditional territory it seats. This protected area was created in the colonial period and comprises of a national park, and forest reserve. Its creation marked the beginning of Agikuyu dislocation from their landscape. This began what has been an antagonistic relationship between government authorities (from the colonial period through to the post-independence period). In an attempt to address past injustices, Kenya reviewed its forest policies in 2005, and now seeks to engage with surrounding communities in forest governance. This paper seeks to discuss how Agikuyu people-forest relationships have shifted through time; from the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-independence epochs. These relationships will be juxtaposed with the values that are promoted by the government and conservationists. The author will demonstrate that there has been a sustained struggle at the community level to resist pristine wilderness preservationist doctrines. Further, the author will show how communities have self-mobilized to protect their landscape, and how identities are shaped through the forest and land. In the end, the author will make a case for honest dialogue and engagement with communities, as a critical ingredient protection of forests, arguably one of the world’s most threatened resources. Key words: Forests; land; land-use; colonialism; governance; Nyandarwa; Kenya
8:50AM “Commoning, Enclosure, and the Destabilization of Social Relationships.”
  Sandra A. Logan
Session Title: Common Concerns: Wildlife Conservation and the Loss of Social Sustainability Presentation Title: “Enclosure, Displacement, and the Destabilization of Social Relationships.” Presenter: Sandra A. Logan The displacement of people from land for which they have held common customary rights of access and use has historically been linked to the desire for control and use of land for private or limited benefit. When land is not claimed by someone specifically, but is instead maintained through communal stewardship for the use of that community, it is vulnerable to appropriation and redefinition for private or government ownership and management. This pattern has held for centuries, to the detriment of commoners and the land and resources they maintain. Wildlife management is often a part of that maintenance, as commoning requires a sustainable relationship to the land, and those sustainable practices are displaced along with the customary occupants. Further, not only are the livelihoods and economic conditions of such communal groups undermined by these land appropriations, but also their social formation itself is often destabilized or destroyed, resulting in the loss of heritage, values, relationships, and cultural viability in general. I trace the connections between three representative moments of displacement: 17th-century England and the Enclosure Acts; 19th-century US and the Indian Removal Acts; and 20th-21st-century Tanzania and the displacement of the Maasai. These three examples are explicitly or implicitly connected to the question of wildlife and land conservation, and they are all instances where individual, national, and economic interests conflict with the sustainability of the land and ecosystem, and of the people who are being pushed from lands that have been preserved through their traditional, common management.
9:10AM Application of Heritage-Centered Conservation Solutions for Wildlife Conservation and Human Livelihood Improvement
  Tutilo Mudumba
In the 21st century, conservation practice conducted without consideration of the perspectives of the local people that share their landscapes with wildlife is proving to be ineffective. Community-based conservation has become a predominant conservation paradigm over the last 25 years. Typically, community-based conservation includes moves that bargain for employment of locals in wildlife protection forces, inclusion of local leaders in conservation decision-making positions, sharing of benefits, among others. Most of these strategies address some aspects of the symptoms of human-wildlife conflicts or are derived from outside these communities which undermines their success. In contrast, progressive conservation philosophy recognizes that people are integral to landscapes with wildlife and that mechanisms which enable people to engage in conservation activities are most sustainable. We present a heritage-centered conservation solution for wildlife conservation and human livelihood improvement. Our focus expands upon the foundation of community-based conservation in that it articulates that conservation solutions must be consistent with- and derive from- the heritage of the local people. An example of the heritage-centered design is the Snares to Wares Initiative, a comprehensive youth livelihood project that was borne out of a community need to sustain wildlife populations inside of Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. The initiative is focused on repurposing wire snares, used in subsistence poaching, as pieces of art for sale both locally and internationally. The Snares to Wares Initiative demonstrably decreases the use of otherwise destructive wire snares and provides stable incomes for at least 250 youths. The Snares to Wares Initiative can be customized and scaled to other areas experiencing similar conservation and human livelihood challenges. This initiative has evolved from a conservation tool into a philosophy for wildlife conservation where local knowledge generates revenue and conserves wildlife. The Snares to Wares Initiative is but one example of heritage-centered conservation.
9:30AM “Consequences of a Point-Source Pastoralist Incursion on Large Mammal Occurrence in Loisaba Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya”
  Symon Masiaine
Session Title: Common Concerns: Wildlife Conservation and the Loss of Social Sustainability Presentation Title: Consequences of a point source Pastoralist incursion on large mammal occurrence in Loisaba Conservancy, Kenya. Presenter: Symon Masiaine Pastoralists and large mammals regularly conflict over access to grazing lands. This has been true historically and is importantly relevant in the present day. In the dynamic 21st century, conflicts of this type are increasing in frequency given that grazing lands are rapidly dwindling (due to habitat fragmentation and human range expansion) and drying up (via the processes of desertification fueled by climate change processes). These dynamics are particularly apparent in East Africa and perhaps most obvious in Northern Kenya. In February of 2017, there was a point-source pastoralist incursion in Laikipia County, Kenya. An estimated 40,000 livestock were grazed onto Loisaba Conservancy by armed pastoralists. The cattle, deriving from four counties (Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Baringo), grazed across the conservancy for four months before dispersing after the fresh grasses were consumed. Using a broad array of camera traps, we compared occupancy patterns of several species of large mammals in the period directly before, during, and after this incursion. Documenting the impact of point-source pastoralism on spatial patterns in wildlife occurrence, we discuss the implications of this type of human-wildlife conflict on large mammal ecology, wildlife conservation, and pastoralist well-being. Competition between pastoralists and wildlife is only predicted to intensify in future, emphasizing the importance of assessing the consequences of these interactions. Thus, we specifically comment on the role that grazing lands play in mitigating this pastoralist-wildlife conflict.

Organizers: Sandra Logan, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; Mordecai Ogada, Conservation Solutions Afrika, Nanyuki Kenya; Robert Montgomery, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Location: Cleveland CC Date: October 8, 2018 Time: 8:10 am - 9:50 am