22.- 25.9
2020

The marketization of African wildlife encounter in safari tourism, conservation volunteering and trophy hunting

Antje Schlottmann, University of Frankfurt
Olivier Graefe, University of Fribourg

 

25/09/20 9 - 10.30 am Room 454 (main building)

 

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to excavate implications of the marketization of African wildlife encounter from various perspectives.

African wildlife has long been seen as a material resource in form of ivory, skins, trophies, or meat and has been integrated in capitalist market development even before colonial times. In the late 20th century, however, social disapproval pushed this market and marketization practices, at least partly, underground. Moreover, under conditions of discourses such as sustainability, biodiversity and wildlife conservation, the market induced depletion of wildlife in certain regions or of particular species led to an establishment of parks and reserves. Yet, today we see a well-accepted and growing market of wildlife encounter, which is accompanied by an increasing privatization of formerly common goods. This market is dominated by private entrepreneurs and companies but also by nature conservation NGOs and local communities. Wildlife conservation itself has turned into a source of profit, with “encounter” as the new competitive value. Parks and reserves transformed into tourist attractions and the choice of products based on this value includes safari tourism, conservation volunteering and (legal) trophy hunting. The trade for African wildlife “worth experiencing/watching/hunting” seems to be driven by material and mental image-work and emerges in form of auctions and sells by catalogue for hunting concessions, trophies as well as life animals for the purpose of breeding and wildlife watching in private game reserves and national parks.

We seek papers with either theoretical or empirical focus on the marketization of African wildlife encounter from various perspectives, that help to excavate driving forces and future implications.

This could imply work on:

  • discourses and practices of wildlife management
  • changing human–animal relationships induced by the market value given to (particular) species.
  • practices of visualization in traditional media and/or social networks that influence encounter values of particular species.

This study aims to understand the geographical transfer of value in tourism global production networks (GPN). Value in nature-based GPNs results from the transformation of nature into commodities. Therefore, the commodification process of wildlife in Namibia and its integration into the tourism GPN will be explored. The promotion of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes after independence has led to a stable wildlife population in Namibia that is increasingly integrated into the safari tourism and trophy hunting tourism industry. The tourism industry is able to create considerable value from wildlife. Previous research has shown, however, that a large share of the created value does not stay in the resource region, but is consumed elsewhere – the question is where exactly. Therefore, this study applies a mixed-method approach that follows the product of the tourism industry and accompanies the transformation from nature to a commodity that is sold on a global market. On its journey to the consumer, value is added to the product which is accumulated in different locations – the resource region, the gateway city, the global scale. Findings show that the process of commodification has a spatial dimension that results in an ongoing geographical transfer of value from the resource region to the gateway city. Government actors create policies to commodify wildlife and promote Windhoek, the capital city, to become the nation’s gateway for tourism. Thus, the trophy hunting industry has developed which untapped economic potential in the resource region, although the lion’s share is appropriated by GPN actors in the gateway city.

Linus Kalvelage is PhD student in Economic geography at the University of Cologne.

The use of visual material plays an essential role when it comes to the marketing of safari tourism as a measure to support wildlife conservation in Namibia. Building on phenomenological visual studies, it is being argued that visual tourism thereby enables its consumers to bodily experience a highly subjective and external tourist gaze. While it is mostly big mammals that are being depicted in this regard, questions arise regarding speciesism, captive commodification, nonhuman charisma and the production of encounter value. In other words: why certain animals are seemingly highlighted more than others when it comes to wildlife conservation. As logics of affection play an essential role in view of the production of encounter value, nonhuman charisma as well as imaginative geographies of the ´African wild´ are assumed to have a huge impact when it comes to the consumption and production of visual material regarding wildlife tourism in Namibia. It is hence being examined if the rise of Instagram and its focus on visual material can be presumed to have further effects on the hybrid geographies of wildlife conservation in Namibia. Based on digital ethnography, special focus will thereby be put on the production of encounter value and respective logics of affection as well as the role of a hegemonic tourist gaze.

Nina Schiegl is PhD student in Human geography at the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

Human-Wildlife interactions are currently at the centre of conservation practices and debates in southern Africa. Human-Wildlife Conflicts was developed as a special form of these interaction and between human and wildlife, where there are more advantages. This form of relation is not new but over a period of time humans have embraced differently. This paper is based on a nine-month ethnographic study  of ward 14 and 15 of Sengwe communal areas in Chiredzi district, part of Great Limpopo Trans frontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA), where I investigated perceptions towards human-wildlife interactions; historically analysed human-wildlife conflicts and how communities are adapting to life on the edges of conservation areas. To a large extent, qualitative data collection methods, which included 20 informant interviews, 2 focused group workshops, participant observation and document analysis were employed in this study.  A  survey was also used to obtain quantitative data that complimented the qualitative data. My findings suggest that people have developed different terms to refer to human wildlife interactions and through history, wildlife performed a spiritual role and was a tool used by spiritual forces to control human behaviour. The study also shows that conflicts among conservationists and communities arise when wildlife actions affect communities and their livelihood negatively and vice versa. There was a point when wildlife persecution, was more commonly used as an exclusion term by authorities to local communities. Human-wildlife conflicts is a recent term developed to portray wildlife as pests, which can only be tolerated if they provide financial benefits to human beings. I concluded that the frequency human-wildlife conflicts reflect a historical, social, economic and political problems within the society.

Keywords: Human-wildlife conflicts, wildlife persecutions, GLT

Bright Masocha in Social Anthropology is PhD student at the University of Cologne.