Letters

Conservation: Beyond population growth—Response

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Science  12 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6449, pp. 133-134
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay3049

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  • RE: Conservation: Beyond population growth: response to Ogutu et al.
    • Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
    • Other Contributors:
      • Tor A. Benjaminsen, Professor, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
      • Connor Joseph Cavanagh, Posdoctoral Fellow, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
      • Haakon Lein, Professor, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

    In their response to our letter, Ogutu el al. 2019 insist on primarily attributing the problems with the current state of conservation governance in the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem to human population growth, as they did in their original article.
    While we certainly acknowledge that human populations are growing in the region, we consider such a reductionist focus on population growth to be analytically problematic for the following reasons.

    First, while the focus of our argument in the letter was on broader trends in the whole of the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem, Ogutu et al.’s response focuses on the Maasai Mara in Kenya, avoiding the more complex and often violent nature of conservation on the Tanzanian side of the ecosystem. In Tanzania, several rounds of evictions have been carried out to expand the borders of the Serengeti National park through the formation of buffer zones. These areas have been carved out of village lands, and have left thousands of people homeless (1, 2, 3). Similarly, the authors appear to support the expansion of new conservancies adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, which have likewise pushed people into smaller, environmentally suboptimal lands. In turn, such marginalisation has precipitated considerable ‘leakage’ effects, or deleterious land use changes in the limited areas that local people are left with (4,5).

    Second, Ogutu et al. argue that fencing in the Maasai Mara emerged prior to the intr...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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