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Trophy hunting in South Africa: Risky business for whom?

Author: Femke Brandt

Trophy hunting has been presented as part of nature conservation which, itself, has been a tool to justify, and violently impose forced displacement of Africa’s indigenous peoples, facilitated through processes of rural enclosures, and privatisation of natural resources.
Over the past few days, a “secret meeting” has been underway in Polokwane of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum, consisting of South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and Safari Club International (SCI), a big United States hunting network. A leaked agenda suggests the conference aims to build a pro-hunting lobby, in the face of increasing pressure on trophy hunting practices in Southern Africa. Whose interests are served in this forum?

Media attention and public outcry, like in cases such as the killing of Cecil the Lion, in Zimbabwe, are a nightmare for the trophy-hunting industry, which claims to contribute to sustainable development and conservation. The dominant narratives in the media are pro-conservation, and rarely analyse trophy-hunting, critically, in the context of power, and of property relations in South Africa. Based on my research with game farm workers in the Eastern Cape, I want to add another story to the debate. It is the story of the politics of land, and belonging in postcolonial Southern Africa, and the ways the wildlife industry violates the rights of black people.

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