A feminist political ecology of wildlife crime: The gendered dimensions of a poaching economy and its impacts in Southern Africa

Masse, Francis, Givá, Nicia and Lunstrum, Elizabeth (2021) A feminist political ecology of wildlife crime: The gendered dimensions of a poaching economy and its impacts in Southern Africa. Geoforum, 126. pp. 205-214. ISSN 0016-7185

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.07.031


The ways in which poaching economies and militarized responses to shut them down intersect with local gender norms and dynamics remain underexamined. We address this by developing a feminist political ecology of wildlife crime by drawing on feminist political ecology and complementing it with insights from feminist criminology. This framework centres local systems of gender norms and their intersection with socio-economic dynamics across scale to offer a fuller understanding of the drivers of participation in poaching economies and their increasingly deadly impacts, a reflection of the expansion of militarized conservation practice. Drawing on fieldwork in the Mozambican borderlands adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park on the illicit rhino horn economy, we show how two stark gendered dynamics emerge. First, long-standing norms of masculinity, in particular caring for family, in one of the poorest regions of Southern Africa motivate men to enter the trade despite the risks. Second, women whose husbands have been killed while hunting rhino embody the indirect human consequences of a violent poaching economy. The loss of their husbands, a broader context of poverty, and gendered norms concerning widows articulate in ways that leave these women and their children to experience more acute and long term vulnerability. We discuss what lessons a feminist political ecology of wildlife crime offers for understanding and addressing poaching conflicts, wildlife crime and illicit resource geographies more broadly.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Thank you to all the participants, especially the women in Massingir, who shared their insights and time with us. A sincere thank you to Filipe Mate, Paulo Lopes José, Tania Muhave, and Ilidio Mondlane for their research assistance. Thank you to the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive and productive reviews and feedback as well as Tanya Wyatt for reading a draft version. Draft versions benefited from presentation at the HERG at UCL and Gendering Green Criminology conference and Research was funded by SSHRC Grant 435-2014-1916 and ERC Grant 694995 (BIOSEC).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Poaching, Feminist political ecology, Conservation, Green militarization, Illegal wildlife trade, Criminology
Subjects: D900 Others in Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2021 17:03
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2023 08:00
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46917

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