Black Stork Down: the trap of communicating the ‘Wildlife Wars’

As the world’s tigers, elephants, rhinos and pangolins continue to be poached, smuggled and sold, wildlife conservationists have declared war on wildlife trafficking and illegal hunting. These “wildlife wars” have received wide media coverage and led to an exceptional increase in enforcement through, for example, the use of drones for surveillance.

Military metaphors are powerful because they offer a way to explain abstract ideas about species conservation. Conservation is cast as a kind of war, something most people are more familiar with, if only through television. This comparison makes it easier to show how vital it is for donors and decision makers to support these issues. It is thus not surprising that military comparisons are now used not only to talk about topics such as wildlife poaching and invasive species, but also when discussing conservation in general.

CABS Bird Guards survey the countryside International Animal Rescue Malta

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Profile: Brian Campbell

brianI am a social anthropologist focusing on the politics of multiculturalism in North Africa and Southern Europe, with particular interest in the Spanish Enclaves of Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla) and Malta. Currently I am pursuing my interest in social conflict and resolution by doing ethnographic and multidisciplinary research on the politics of conservation and the destructive conflict between hunters and NGOs in Malta.

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