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Chapter 6 is an analysis of human–elephant conflict in Northern Botswana. Here, autonomy has a very different role in the making of the conflict, as the autonomy that is given priority is the autonomy of people outside of direct contact with elephants and often outside of the country and continent itself. The chapter demonstrates that the promotion of autonomy between people is not equal and is interrelated with other dominations involving race, gender, culture and status. In Botswana, this means that responses to human–elephant conflict are often dictated by people who do not have any direct experience with the conflict and do not have to bear the everyday cost of living with conflict. A cursory analysis of these responses suggests that there has been an attempt to build resilience to vulnerability, as the state has implemented measures that are prima facie consistent with a vulnerability approach. However, the case study shows that even genuine resilience measures can be ineffective when there is a lack of collaboration in their design and implementation and when the money and power is held elsewhere.
The introduction seeks to set the research questions to be explored throughout the book: what is the nature of the human relationship with nature, what are the central ideologies and assumptions that inform the management of the human–wildlife relationship, how are these ideologies reflected in law and legal institutions and, finally, how do they need to be changed. It outlines the approach the book will take in order to answer these fundamental questions.
Chapter 5 introduces the first situational case study, human–dingo conflict on K’gari in Queensland, Australia. The chapter describes the context of the conflict and includes the close and symbiotic relationship that locals have historically had with dingoes on the island, including Indigenous Australians. More recently though, the relationship has changed because of several legal shifts implemented across the island, not the least of which was the listing of the island under the World Heritage Convention. This and other legal and policy changes have meant that attempts have been made to separate dingoes from people and maintain the island as a pristine and natural place. This forced separation has had the effect of reinforcing notions of human autonomy from species and the environment, as well as dingo autonomy from human care and affection. The relational vulnerability of both the people involved and the dingoes was not a relevant consideration. As a result, the case study shows the myth of autonomy at multiple levels: first, that dingoes and humans are naturally autonomous and should remain so; and, second, that institutions operate autonomously and without outside undue influence. The chapter concludes with several recommendations for an eco-vulnerability management approach.
Chapter 4 presents international wildlife law as an institutional governance system relevant to local responses to human–wildlife conflict. It finds that there is a lack of any real ‘conflict’ language within the framework and this limits the ability of international law to deal with the problem at the outset. Further, the value orientations discussed within Chapters 2 and 3 are all present in international wildlife law to some extent and so the framework has the same conflict of values that are present in situations of human–wildlife conflict. The chapter traces the development of ‘dominance’ in international law and finds that there are specific principles and legal developments that continue to prevent a positive relationship that is beneficial to both people and wildlife. In addition, the underlying constraints of capitalism, neo-liberalism and sustainable development are discussed. Finally, this part posits that the failure of international law to implement a meaningful interpretation of intrinsic value and animal welfare has meant that such language has not been able to minimise the damage done by the dominant framework. The chapter concludes with suggestions for eco-vulnerability principles to be incorporated into international law.
Chapter 7 provides a comprehensive study of the legal and illegal trade in wildlife and the resulting consequences, namely pandemics such as COVID-19. At no time in recent history have we seen the effect of our use and abuse of wildlife in such a direct, immediate, and catastrophic way as we have with COVID-19. In reality, a pandemic such as this could have originated anywhere in the world because governance at global and local levels does not adequately respond to the vulnerability that humanity shares with the environment. Also, the use and abuse of wildlife is a worldwide phenomenon. Specifically, and despite the Chinese origins of the pandemic, international and domestic wildlife and environmental laws continue to allow for the same exploitation that resulted in the initial disease transmission. This chapter analyses this proposition from an eco-vulnerability point of view with emphasis on gaps in international wildlife governance and missing institutional collaboration opportunities. It considers the larger failings of environmental governance considering this pandemic and suggests ways of moving forward.
Chapter 2 is a detailed explanation of the theoretical methodology that the remainder of the monograph follows. It begins with an explanation of the main philosophical positions that are traditionally considered as relevant in situations of human–wildlife conflict, including anthropocentric, ecological and animal rights/welfare perspectives. Because the very nature of human–wildlife conflict is centred on differences in held values, these types of value-driven positions are not, by themselves, useful in responding to conflict, because of the alternate value positions that they alienate. The chapter then moves to an analysis of two theories – Martha Fineman’s Vulnerability Theory and Ecofeminism. The purpose of the chapter is to analyse the principles of both sets of theories and combine them to develop a new theory of environmental jurisprudence, which will be referred to as ‘Ecological-Vulnerability’. The chapter demonstrates that an ecofeminist approach to vulnerability theory (eco-vulnerability) not only explains the individual and institutional limitations in current methods of addressing human–wildlife conflict but can help to formulate principles that work to transform it.
Chapter 3 is an analysis of the sociological and ecological literature surrounding the problem of human–wildlife conflict and so describes the non-legal context. It begins with an analysis of the problem itself and the terminology surrounding human–wildlife conflict. The chapter then suggests that specific management models are not equipped to deal with the value conflicts that surround instances of human–wildlife conflict. Approaches to wildlife management are heavily based on reductionist scientific formulations that exclude consideration of the needs of the community and the wildlife concerned with conflict. They often do not allow for an emotional connection with wildlife or encourage positive experiences. They also often do not consider the historical social conflicts surrounding the symptomatic wildlife behaviour. Such approaches are vulnerable to political pressure and work in conjunction with a top-down state response to exclude particular people and reduce human and ecological security. The primary finding of the chapter is that management of wildlife at the ground level most often seeks to promote individual autonomy and, as discussed in Chapter 2, such an emphasis is not conducive to an appropriate response to human–wildlife conflict.
The conclusions reached in Chapter 8 centre on the formulation of liberal autonomy in our wildlife laws and policies. Throughout the book it was demonstrated that autonomy has been created and maintained by a dominant neo-liberal and capitalist paradigm because it serves and furthers that paradigm. This relationship between autonomy and neo-liberalism creates a hierarchy that serves western notions of power and control. The law is a tool that has been used to this end. Further, these themes dictate our relationship with wildlife because the law as an institution creates and maintains these themes in wildlife governance. Instead, the research suggests that we need a broader and more inclusive view of the relationship, which extends outside of the dominant paradigm. The conclusions foreground a possible move away from the promotion of autonomy as the basis of our laws and policies and a move towards a response to vulnerability that builds resilience. This can be achieved with further focus on inclusive collaborative governance, traditional ecological knowledge, compassion, emotion and other forms of knowledge and an acknowledgement of the intrinsic value of wildlife and the environment as a whole.
Humans are responsible for biodiversity loss in many related and sometimes conflicting ways. Human-wildlife conflict, commonly defined as any negative interaction between people and wildlife, is a primary contributor to wildlife extinction and a manifestation of the destructive relationship that people have with wildlife. The author presents this 'wicked' problem in a social and legal context and demonstrates that legal institutions structurally deny human-wildlife conflict, while exacerbating conflict, promoting values consistent with individual autonomy, and ignoring the interconnected vulnerabilities shared by human and non-human species alike. It is the use of international and state law that sheds light on existing conflicts, including dingo conflict on K'Gari-Fraser Island in Australia, elephant conflict in Northern Botswana, and the global wildlife trade contributing to COVID-19. This book presents a critical analysis of human-wildlife conflict and its governance, to guide lawyers, scientists and conservations alike in the transformation of the management of human-wildlife conflict.
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