Over at a blog called Foole's No Man's Land, Louisa Lombard has some interesting commentary on my piece on Mark and Delia Owens, the controversial American conservationists. She doesn't know too much about the practice of journalism, but she knows a lot about militarized anti-poaching operations like the one Mark Owens supervised in Zambia. She reports that in the Central African Republic,
militarized anti-poaching is done by a parastatal "project" funded by the European Union. (The project will end in July, at which point it will be replaced; its successor aims to critically examine the management of space in CAR, which hopefully will diminish the death toll of poachers, anti-poaching guards, cattle, elephants, and other animals.) In the past twenty years, this work has been done by French soldiers ("securing the borders"); an American conservationist (his efforts never really got off the ground, though, because the South African mercenary in his employ got into diamonds and attempted murder and other scandals); Russian former French Foreign Legionnaires funded by safari hunters...I could continue.
And she writes:
It is important not to oversell the successes of militarized anti-poaching. National Geographic published a graphic photo-studded story three years ago about Zakouma National Park in Chad (just across the border from CAR), which has been hard-hit by poachers. The author, Mike Fay, struck a cautiously congratulatory tone in his description of the anti-poaching guards' (also EU-funded) work. Nevertheless, in the past four years Zakouma's elephant population has dwindled from 4,000 to 400. Unless something is done about demand, no conservation efforts will succeed.
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