Militarization of African Wildlife Conservation? Embedding of Anti-Poaching and the Hidden Role of the Botswana Defense Force

Posted: 9 Apr 2013

See all articles by Parakh Hoon

Parakh Hoon

Virginia Tech; St. Martin's University

Date Written: April 9, 2013

Abstract

Africa's wildlife and in particular its elephants and rhinos are being decimated in greater numbers each year. In response to illegal hunting, African militaries, paramilitaries, and private entities have resorted to coercive and violent shoot-to-kill policies in and around many protected areas around Africa. The discursive frame of anti-poaching blurs the distinctions between legal and illegal hunting to justify a “war on poachers” to save wildlife, a trend similar to the strategies that East African countries used in the early 1980s. This paper discusses the underlying ethical, moral, and political justifications for and against coercive anti-poaching and how these are embedded in Botswana’s anti-poaching strategy. Anti-poaching has been one of the central missions of the Botswana Defense Force since 1988, made possible because of the embeddedness of Botswana’s developmental patrimonial state. The role of an informal network of local wildlife conservationists, along with regional security threats, created the conditions for involving the military in anti-poaching. The patterns of civil-military relations shaped by the dominant coalition under President Khama have provided the political space for a long-term commitment of its military to anti-poaching. Botswana’s military anti-poaching is an instructive case for other African countries whose wildlife is under threat from armed criminal networks and gangs, but also points to limitations for addressing a local bushmeat crisis through coercive and violent conservation strategies.

Suggested Citation

Hoon, Parakh and Hoon, Parakh, Militarization of African Wildlife Conservation? Embedding of Anti-Poaching and the Hidden Role of the Botswana Defense Force (April 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2247182

Parakh Hoon (Contact Author)

St. Martin's University ( email )

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Lacey, WA 98503
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Virginia Tech ( email )

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Blacksburg, VA 24061
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