Book review: The Big Conservation Lie

“Hero worship in conservation is as old as wildlife conservation itself. The subjects of this worship are invariably white men and women who are lionized for taking to a life of selfless service of the wilderness and its residents.”

This comes from John Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada’s book “The Big Conservation Lie“. The book is a must read for anyone interested in conservation. It raises serious questions about the way conservation is currently carried out in Kenya and in the rest of Africa.

Mbaria and Ogada describe a small cabal of exclusively white conservationists and conservation thinkers in Kenya. They don’t hesitate to name these conservation heroes in exposing the role they have played in creating “the mess the country faces today in regard to wildlife conservation”.

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

“The Big Conservation Lie”: A presentation by Mordecai Ogada

“The Big Conservation Lie”: A presentation by Mordecai Ogada

“It’s a small book”, says Mordecai Ogada at the beginning of his presentation about the book he co-authored with award-winning Kenyan journalist John Mbaria. “But it’s a small book that I hope will gain some momentum of ideas in other people.” The book is “The Big Conservation Lie: The Untold Story of Wildlife Conservation in Kenya”. Conservation Watch is posting Ogada’s presentation in the hope of adding to that momentum of ideas.

Mordecia Ogada is a carnivore ecologist. He has been involved in conservation work for sixteen years in Kenya and other parts of Africa. His focus is on human-wildlife conflict mitigation and carnivore conservation. From 2011 to 2014, Ogada was the Executive Director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum.

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

Christine Mungai: In a Guardian Story About an Environmental Conflict in Kenya, the White Saviour Rides Again

Colonial tropes abound in a report on the clash between herders and settlers in Laikipia

By Christine Mungai, Global Voices, 24 June 2017

The Guardian recently published an article by Tristan McConnell, their correspondent in Nairobi, Kenya, titled “Who shot Kuki Gallman? The story of a Kenyan conservationist heroine.” McConnell attempts to tell the story of a conflict in Laikipia, a county in northern Kenya, through the eyes of Gallmann, who is best known for her autobiography I Dreamed Of Africa, which was turned into a 2000 feature film starring Kim Basinger.

Laikipia has been in the headlines on account of the migration, triggered by harsh weather conditions, of local herders and tens of thousands of their cows, goats and sheep in search of water and pasture. The migrating herders and their livestock have breached the fences and boundaries of private nature conservancies, which account for nearly half of Laikipia’s land area. Politicians, taking advantage of historical grievances, have goaded the pastoralists on. Their call for the herders to forcibly occupy the holdings of all large landowners in the area, both black and white, has rattled Laikipia.

McConnell’s framing of Gallmann as a regal, gallant hero fighting to “save the environment” against marauding hordes of “impoverished, local men” is so riddled with colonial tropes that it is astonishing The Guardian published it with that language intact.

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

Colonialism, conservation, cattle, and conflict in Laikipia, Kenya

Colonialism, conservation, cattle, and conflict in Laikipia, Kenya

Last week, two game rangers were shot dead in Kenya. They were part of a group of 10 rangers and other cattle owners, who tried to recover cattle stolen from ranches in Laikipia County.

A couple of weeks before that, armed men disrupted a meeting in Laikipia County. Ironically, the meeting was held to discuss insecurity in the area. The men shot in the air, causing panic.

These incidents are just the latest in an on-going land conflict in Laikipia. This post is an attempt to unravel some of what’s going on in Laikipia. With general elections due in Kenya in August 2017, the situation has become highly politicised.

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

Forest Defenders Conference in Oxford, 21 June 2017

Five years ago, Chut Wutty was murdered in Cambodia. He was one of Cambodia’s leading campaigners against illegal logging and land grabs. He was killed in the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province, while researching illegal logging with two journalists from the Cambodia Daily.

Wutty’s murder was not unusual. Every week at least two people are killed for speaking out against environmental destruction. In 2014, according to research by Global Witness, 116 environmental activists were murdered. 40% of them were indigenous. All of the killings were related to land disputes.

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

The Ogiek win huge land rights victory in Kenya

The Ogiek win huge land rights victory in Kenya

The Ogiek are one of the last groups of hunter gatherers in Kenya. Their ancestral land is in the Mau Forest in the Rift Valley of Kenya. For many years, the Kenyan government has threatened them with eviction, in the name of conservation. Last week, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that the Ogiek have the right to live in the Mau Forest and that the government of Kenya was wrong to evict them.

Lucy Claridge is a human rights lawyer who works with the Minority Rights Group International. She was the lead lawyer for the Ogiek. She told the BBC World Service that,

“This is an extremely positive outcome. It sends a very clear message to the government of Kenya, but also to other governments in Africa, that they must respect the rights of their indigenous communities, and that includes their land rights.”

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org

Rainforest Parks and People: Monitoring the human impacts of conservation in the Congo Basin

Rainforest Parks and People is a new interactive website focussing on the impact of protected areas in Africa’s Congo Basin on forest communities. Launched this week by Rainforest Foundation UK, the website aims to increase the transparency and accountability of conservation projects in the Congo Basin.

To accompany the website launch, Rainforest Foundation UK has produced a short video, titled “Why conservation needs people”:

>> Click here for the full article on conservation-watch.org