When Conservation Meets Militarization: Militarized Anti-Poaching in South Africa



Friday 29 January
3 to 5 pm
in SS 2125
100 St. George Street, Sidney Smith Hall, 2nd Floor

Military practices, logics, and technologies have increasingly spread from the battlefield and into everyday life. One perhaps surprising arena into which militarization has expanded is that of conservation. Nowhere is this stitching together of conservation and militarization more pronounced than in the fight against commercial rhino poaching unfolding in South Africa. In its attempt to protect the iconic rhino, the South African state has further paramilitarized its ranger force, relocated “insurgent” communities, and deployed both high-tech surveillance drones and the national Army. The outcome has been deadly, with an estimated 500 suspected poachers killed in the last 5 years. In this talk, I draw from my long-term research in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to outline this intricate dovetailing of conservation and militarization, focusing on the rise of militarized conservation, its theoretical implications, and its unanticipated consequences, including its threat to the very species it is deployed to save.

Libby Lunstrum is an Associate Professor of Geography and Resident Scholar at the Centre for Refugee Studies, York University. Her research interests include the militarization of conservation practice, conservation-induced displacement, and the political ecology of international borders. She conducts research in Southern Africa and North America.

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