These days more and more conservationists talk in terms of a ‘war’ to save species. International campaigns present a specific image that park agencies and conservation NGOs are engaged in a continual ‘battle’ to protect wildlife from ‘armies’ of highly organized poachers who are financially motivated.
This approach was questioned and interrogated by Professor Rosaleen Duffy at a talk organised by the Marjan Centre last night; Professor Duffy is Professor of Conservation Politics at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at Kent University and the author of ‘Nature Crime: How We Are Getting Conservation Wrong’ among a number of publications and papers.
The ‘war’ to save biodiversity is commonly presented as a ‘just war’ to save critically endangered species such as rhinos, tigers, gorillas and elephants. ‘This is a significant shift in approach since the late 1990s, when Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and participatory techniques were at their peak. Since the mid 2000’s there has been a clear turn back to fortress conservation models that aim to separate people and wildlife, via increasingly military means’, said Professor Duffy.
This approach poses great dangers in a ‘war’ for biodiversity, most notably that it might be used to justify highly repressive and coercive policies, she warned; furthermore, the rise of militarized methods of anti-poaching have led to accusations of intimidation, rape, torture and extra-judicial killings. However, militarised forms of anti- poaching are increasingly justified by some conservation NGO’s to protect wildlife.
These issues are important as private military companies (PMC’s) are used more and more to protect and enforce protected areas whether on behalf of the state, conservation NGOs or private philanthropists. However, critics from within and outside the conservation community are concerned that these methods are not only highly unjust, but are in fact counterproductive. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre.