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Crocodile crimes: people versus wildlife and the politics of postcolonial conservation on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

McGregor, J. (2005) Crocodile crimes: people versus wildlife and the politics of postcolonial conservation on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. Geoforum, 36 (3). pp. 353-369. ISSN 0016-7185

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2004.06.007


This article is about the politics of conservation in postcolonial Southern Africa. It focuses on the process and consequences of redefining the Nile crocodile as an endangered species and explores the linked local and international, commercial and conservationist interests that allowed the animal to re-establish itself in state-protected waterways in colonial and postcolonial contexts. It investigates the effects of the animal's successful re-accommodation by examining conflicts between crocodiles and the fishing communities sharing space on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. Fishermen's hostile representations of the animal emphasize competition for fish, harassment, fear, loss of assets and loss of life. Their fear of crocodiles is heightened by the animal's entanglement in local social life, through its association with witchcraft. The article emphasizes the importance of considering both hegemonic and marginalized ideas about animals in the light of the material interactions, relations of power and historical contexts that shape them. Understanding the attitudes and circumstances of the local communities who bear the physical and economic costs of living with dangerous animals is important-it threatens the future of conservation programmes and reveals the potential for significant abuses to accompany the conservation of wildlife in postcolonial contexts. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:3784
Uncontrolled Keywords:conservation; environmental conflict; postcolonialism; animal geographies; wildlife and fisheries management; southern Africa
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