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

Conservation violence: More evictions of the Sengwer in the Embobut Forest, Kenya

Conservation violence: More evictions of the Sengwer in the Embobut Forest, Kenya

On 2 April 2017, Kenya Forest Service guards violently attacked Elias Kimaiyo, a Sengwer community leader. The Forest Guards were burning houses belonging to the Sengwer. Kimaiyo was taking photographs.

The following day, Kimaiyo told Amnesty International what happened, from his hospital bed:

“I was taking pictures of Kenya Forest Service Guards who were burning houses of the Sengwer in Embobut forest. I counted 29 burnt houses.

“The guards started shooting at me. I ran, but tripped and fell, breaking my kneecap, and they caught up with me. They hit me with the butt of a rifle, and broke my arm. They took two cameras and an iPad from me.”

The Kenya Forest Service has been violently evicting the Sengwer from their forest for many years. But the violence is intensifying. Forest Peoples Programme reports that “the Sengwer are shocked that KFS guards are now shooting with live bullets”. According to FPP, the Sengwer report that in total 90 homes were burned down.

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

The ivory game

The ivory game

The numbers are horrific. About every 15 minutes an elephant is killed. That adds up to 150,000 elephants killed in the past five years. At this rate, the African elephant could become extinct in 15 years.

These deaths are driven by the ivory trade. Criminal networks smuggle ivory into China, where it fuels a multi-billion trade.

A recent documentary film on Netflix, “The Ivory Game”, looks into the ivory trade and how it is driving elephants to extinction.

The film is directed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson. Leonardo di Caprio is executive producer. It looks at poaching in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. And at ivory markets in China and Vietnam. This is a film about wildlife activists taking on poachers and criminals.

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

Honey at the Top: A film about the Sengwer forest people in the Cherangani Hills, Kenya

Honey at the Top: A film about the Sengwer forest people in the Cherangani Hills, Kenya

Honey at the Top is a film by Dean Puckett, a UK-based documentary film maker. At the end of 2014, Puckett travelled to the Cherangani Hills in Western Kenya. He filmed and documented the lives of the Sengwer people.

Parts of Puckett’s film are beautiful. The Sengwer live in a landscape of mists, forests, fields and mountains. They farm cows, sheep and goats, and collect honey.

Other parts of the film are disturbing. In recent years, the Kenya Forest Service has carried out a series of violent evictions. Armed guards from the Kenya Forest Service have burned the Sengwer’s homes. They destroyed their property, and punched and beat the Sengwer. They even destroyed a school.

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

 

Indigenous Sengwer leaders request suspension of EU-funded programme in Kenya

Indigenous Sengwer leaders request suspension of EU-funded programme in Kenya

In June 2016, the European Union and the Kenyan Government announced a new EU-funded programme: the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme. The project aims to preserve ecosystem services in Mount Elgon and the Cherangany Hills.

Continue reading “Indigenous Sengwer leaders request suspension of EU-funded programme in Kenya”