Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Social Ecology and Oryx Conservation

Hey All,

   I thought I would post something a little more intellectual today. In the last semester of my previous degree (Anthropology) I researched the roles humans play in Conservation efforts. One of the papers I used in my research is about wild Oryx conservation projects in Oman and why they have been less than effective. Dawn Chatty's reasoning is that because conservation efforts have not taken into account local indigenous populations they have failed.

(Arabian Oryx)

   Traditional scientific driven biodiversity conservation efforts (especially in east Africa / Arabia) have tended to try and remove indigenous pastoralists from protected areas as hindrances to wildlife conservation. However, Chatty demonstrates how this attitude is changing in the wake of modern conservation. Community participation in conservation has become more important to the field of conservation ecology, especially in Africa (104). Chatty seeks to demonstrate how this model of participatory conservation is not yet the model in Oman and how Omani pastoralists are still seen as obstacles to conservation by scientists working with wildlife.  This is an example of where anthropologists are needed to work as cultural translators between the indigenous populations and conservationists. Chatty discusses why indigenous people have often been associated with land overuse by conservationists, stressing the western definition of wilderness as being untouched or isolated from humans as a reason. This definition of the environment is however reductionists as it fails to recognize the complex relationship between humans and the environment.).Using her Omani case study, Chatty demonstrates how “sustainable conservation requires…the good will of indigenous populations,” (Chatty 2001:118). Chatty argues that if an economically stressed local population does not see the benefits of a conservation project then the project is likely to fail. However, the combination of conservation and development efforts stand to sustainably reinforce conservation efforts while also bolstering economic stability.

(Omani Bedouin)

   This is a very interesting and pertinent paper to those interested in conservation projects as it is a great example of how important it is for us, as conservationists, to remember that humans fit into the ecologies we want to conserve. Local human populations should be seen as an important and integral part of conservation schemes!

Chatty, Dawn

2001    Pastoral Tribes in the Middle East and Wildlife Conservation schemes: the endangered species? Nomadic Peoples 5(2):104-124.

Heres a link to the journal if you are interested:

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