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Game Ranching and the Ecology of Development in the Serengeti, 1961-1967

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Abstract:

In 1961, a newly independent Tanganyika hosted the world's most important international wildlife preservation conference in the city of Arusha. Organized by former UNESCO secretary Julian Huxley and Frankfurt Zoological Society director Bernhard Grzimek, among others, the conference has achieved notoriety for its promotion of national park and tourism expansion in sub-Saharan Africa as a means of wildlife conservation for a cash-strapped decolonizing continent. But an equally important if controversial proposal at the time was to use development funds and technical assistance for African countries to “utilize bushmeat”—to set up carefully monitored game ranches where wild animals could be nurtured, slaughtered, canned, and sold to local, national, and even international markets. Such a program was based on the purported success of Ray Dasmann in Northern Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe), as an alternative to fortress conservation. Dasmann proposed that game ranching transferred the biomass of the savannas to animal bodies and human stomachs much more efficiently than livestock raising, which was deemed inefficient and ecologically destructive. Despite massive funding from West German, British, and North American foundations and NGOs and cadres of international scientists, however, the program largely failed as the participants quickly realized that killing, canning and storing animal meat in tropical environments was far more difficult than Euro-American ecologists had anticipated. I argue that such “technical assistance” and its discontents were a postcolonial replay of earlier forms of misguided colonial wildlife management, which assumed Africans were not sound land managers. African knowledge and livestock husbandry were sidelined in favored of scientific wildlife management and European veterinary medicine. The program did generate academic careers in Europe and America but few tangible benefits for rural Africans or wild and domesticated animals.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170670_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Lekan, Thomas. "Game Ranching and the Ecology of Development in the Serengeti, 1961-1967" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170670_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lekan, T. M. "Game Ranching and the Ecology of Development in the Serengeti, 1961-1967" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170670_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: In 1961, a newly independent Tanganyika hosted the world's most important international wildlife preservation conference in the city of Arusha. Organized by former UNESCO secretary Julian Huxley and Frankfurt Zoological Society director Bernhard Grzimek, among others, the conference has achieved notoriety for its promotion of national park and tourism expansion in sub-Saharan Africa as a means of wildlife conservation for a cash-strapped decolonizing continent. But an equally important if controversial proposal at the time was to use development funds and technical assistance for African countries to “utilize bushmeat”—to set up carefully monitored game ranches where wild animals could be nurtured, slaughtered, canned, and sold to local, national, and even international markets. Such a program was based on the purported success of Ray Dasmann in Northern Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe), as an alternative to fortress conservation. Dasmann proposed that game ranching transferred the biomass of the savannas to animal bodies and human stomachs much more efficiently than livestock raising, which was deemed inefficient and ecologically destructive. Despite massive funding from West German, British, and North American foundations and NGOs and cadres of international scientists, however, the program largely failed as the participants quickly realized that killing, canning and storing animal meat in tropical environments was far more difficult than Euro-American ecologists had anticipated. I argue that such “technical assistance” and its discontents were a postcolonial replay of earlier forms of misguided colonial wildlife management, which assumed Africans were not sound land managers. African knowledge and livestock husbandry were sidelined in favored of scientific wildlife management and European veterinary medicine. The program did generate academic careers in Europe and America but few tangible benefits for rural Africans or wild and domesticated animals.


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