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Game Changer

Game Changer: Animal Rights and the Fate of Africa’s Wildlife

Glen Martin
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Game Changer
    Book Description:

    Are conservation and protecting animals the same thing? InGame Changer, award-winning environmental reporter Glen Martin takes a fresh look at this question as it applies to Africa's megafauna. Martin assesses the rising influence of the animal rights movement and finds that the policies championed by animal welfare groups could lead paradoxically to the elimination of the very species-including elephants and lions-that are the most cherished. In his anecdotal and highly engaging style, Martin takes readers to the heart of the conflict. He revisits the debate between conservationists, who believe that people whose lives are directly impacted by the creation of national parks and preserves should be compensated, versus those who believe that restrictive protection that forbids hunting is the most effective way to conserve wildlife and habitats. Focusing on the different approaches taken by Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia, Martin vividly shows how the world's last great populations of wildlife have become the hostages in a fight between those who love animals and those who would save them.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95205-8
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Maps
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Never an Eden
    (pp. 1-11)

    For anyone who has traveled the developing world, Nairobi is instantly recognizable. It is the doppelganger of Manila, Mexico City, Lagos, Bangkok—a dynamic conurbation of immense size, swelling almost visibly, with a core of decayed high-rises surrounded by concentric rings of slums and gridlocked roadways. The only clues that this is the capital of Kenya, the heart of East Africa, are the marabou storks perched disconsolately on the fever trees along Uhuru Highway, the city’s primary thoroughfare. Somehow, they still evoke the veldt and the bush, the teeming game.

    Fifty years ago, lions hunted and black rhinos browsed in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Man Who Hated Hyenas
    (pp. 12-24)

    The syrupy strains and the histrionic lyrics will still be recalled by people of a certain age. But despite their schmaltz, they created a beatific vision, one evoking a time and place central to the human dream, if not human reality:

    Born free, as free as the wind blows

    As free as the grass grows

    Born free to follow your hear-r-r-rt.

    The song, the eponymous theme for the filmBorn Free,won an Oscar in 1966 and hit number seven on the charts. It was inescapable that year, blaring from every car radio and home stereo, whistled or hummed on...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Dreaming the Peaceable Kingdom
    (pp. 25-36)

    As Desmond Morris noted, Adamson’s philosophy resonated with younger conservationists and researchers. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, said he was led to his life’s work byBorn Free,and this, perhaps, is the greatest legacy of the Adamsons. Douglas-Hamilton’s efforts took the inchoate philosophy of the Adamsons, transferred it to a species even more appealing than lions, and gave it some solid scientific underpinnings.

    Douglas-Hamilton took his doctorate in zoology from Oxford and at the age of twenty-three conducted a study on elephant behavior Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park. The arc of his career spanned the African...

  8. CHAPTER 4 From Automata to Sentient Beings
    (pp. 37-50)

    The animal rights movement originated in western Europe and its colonies, reaching back to the seventeenth century. In 1635, an ordinance was passed in Ireland that prohibited pulling the wool off sheep or attaching plows to horses’ tails, deeming such activities unnecessarily cruel. In 1641, the Massachusetts Bay Colony prohibited “Tirrany or Cruelty toward any bruite Creature which are usually kept for man’s use.” Under Oliver Cromwell, laws were passed in England that discouraged the blood sports dearly loved by the hoi polloi, including cock-fights, dogfights and bullbaiting.

    Such initial attempts to imbue animals with certain rights may seem tepid...

  9. CHAPTER 5 My Cow Trumps Your Lion
    (pp. 51-64)

    The road north from Nanyuki into the rangelands of Laikipia starts out as macadam but quickly turns to dirt. After about twenty miles or so, a side road joins the main highway from the west—a track, really, gouged out of the rock and bush long ago by a small grader or perhaps a gang of men wielding shovels and picks. From the looks of it, the road seems used more by wildlife than motor vehicles; animal tracks are everywhere in the buff-colored dust on the shoulders. Taking even a four-wheel-drive rig down this route is a rough go. Deep...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Death to l’Ancien Régime
    (pp. 65-76)

    Some have likened Michael Norton-Griffiths to Cassandra, a high-strung doom crier who is always quick to find the dark cloud that supports every silver lining. But for many of East Africa’s conservation biologists, Norton-Griffiths is an implacable realist who speaks truth to power. If he is quick to inveigh, even to insult (he has been known to refer to opponents as “reptiles”), his essential message, his supporters say, is spot on: conservation has failed utterly in Kenya, and the country’s wildlife is in danger of vanishing unless policies are changed radically and soon.

    Certainly, Norton-Griffiths’s bonafides compel even his critics...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Reality Check
    (pp. 77-89)

    I am in southern Laikipia in a small Nissan sedan of venerable age, careening down a road that can best be described as a series of gigantic potholes and rock outcroppings conjoined by a roughly graded track. My driver, Matthew, is an impeccably dressed, loquacious, and deeply intelligent young man who provides a running and nuanced commentary on the nutritional requirements of cattle, the economics of charcoal plantations, his girlfriend’s varying and puzzling moods, differing tribal mores, and, most especially, birds. (He is an avid birder, and we stop periodically so he can observe one specimen or another with the...

  12. CHAPTER 8 The Kenya Model
    (pp. 90-100)

    Two types of enterprises usually boast well-appointed offices in Nairobi: banks and large NGOs. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is no exception to this general rule, maintaining an impressive suite of offices in an elegant, modern, gated, and heavily guarded building on Lenana Road. The address demonstrates IFAW’s long-term commitment to its mission in Kenya and to its continuing presence as a political and lobbying force in the country. The organization is not going anywhere, unless it’s to other countries on the continent. As the only East African nation that maintains a total ban on all big game hunting,...

  13. CHAPTER 9 An Inalienable Right
    (pp. 101-113)

    The Arusha express bus from Nairobi takes about an hour to crawl past the sprawling, dust-colored suburbs and frayed satellite towns south of the Kenyan capital. Then the land opens up, though it hardly presents a cheery prospect: great vistas of red dirt swales and hills scattered lightly with thorn trees. The land is “cow burnt,” as Edward Abbey would have described it: grazed down to mineral earth, with hardly a blade of grass standing. My companions on this trip represent a rich diversity of cultures. Stolid Maasai elders commingle uneasily with pallid German backpackers, who laze in their seats,...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Buy (or Lease) It and They Will Come
    (pp. 114-126)

    From Arusha to the Serengeti is a leisurely all-day drive. First you transit through pleasant pastoral lands, punctuated occasionally by small, neat villages. The cattle are sleek, the people tall, erect, and punctilious in address. Around noon you come to the Rift Valley escarpment, which you ascend in a series of thrilling switchbacks. At a pullover, you look south to a far alkaline lake surrounded by parkland and patches of dense forest. This is Lake Manyara National Park. It is here that Iain Douglas-Hamilton conducted his groundbreaking work on the social structure of African elephants, research that is now holy...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Even the Cows Must Pay
    (pp. 127-137)

    The town of Nanyuki is expanding, moving out slowly from its modest urban center into the surrounding scrublands. Still, it takes perhaps fifteen minutes to transit temporally from the twenty-first-century Kenya of Internet cafés, minimalls, and coffee shops selling lattes to young backpackers and NGO staffers to the Kenya of the past ten thousand years, the Kenya of the immutable herder with his stick and his emaciated cows nuzzling for a surviving blade of grass among the dust and rocks. Because that’s how it is as you head north from Nanyuki: you’re driving along rutted streets flanked on each side...

  16. CHAPTER 12 Elephant Man
    (pp. 138-147)

    Max Graham could easily engender envy in any but the most wellfavored and accomplished man. Well over six feet and exceedingly fit, he is also almost ridiculously handsome, with carved features, white regular teeth, a mane of glossy chestnut hair, and a three-day beard that artfully keeps him from being too pretty. Spend a little time with him, and you can’t help but notice that women of all ages and stations—fellow field researchers, NGO staffers, shopkeepers, vegetable vendors—palpitate slightly when he engages them. Professional achievement complements his fortunate genetics: he is one of the most respected wildlife biologists...

  17. CHAPTER 13 The Sage Reconsiders
    (pp. 148-159)

    Situated near the western shore of Long Island, Stony Brook University is separated from Kenya in ways other than distance. The northeastern American hardwood forests that surround and intrude on the campus bear little resemblance to the acacia scrublands of Laikipia and the Northern Frontier District and are ecologically disparate from the plains of the Maasai Mara. Forty miles up the road are the Hamptons, among the most exclusive of America’s bosky exurbs and a remove from the slums of Nairobi that can be measured in light years. At this season in New York State, very early spring, the crocuses...

  18. CHAPTER 14 Commodifying Conservation
    (pp. 160-179)

    My colleague and I sit down at a table in a small restaurant by the banks of the Zambezi River. It is dusk, and clouds ofAnophelesmosquitoes are rising from adjacent wetlands. The insects are hungry and resolutely questing in our direction. Malaria is rife here in Caprivi, a panhandlelike province of Namibia wedged along the borders of Angola, Zambia, and Botswana. It is a disease I’ve contracted once before, and I don’t care to renew my acquaintance. The waitress, as though divining my unease, places a burning insecticidal punk under our table and hands us menus. I anticipate...

  19. CHAPTER 15 Not a Primary Issue of Concern
    (pp. 180-189)

    Alayne Cotterill, the chief field researcher for the Laikipia Predator Project, wants me to meet somebody: her landlord. “He’s an incredibly nice guy,” she says, as we pull off the main road to a gated driveway. “And a terrific farmer—he really knows what he’s doing. We don’t always agree on everything, but I have a great deal of respect for him.” Stout, electrified fencing surrounds the property, proof against both elephants and Cape buffalo.

    Cotterill and her boyfriend, conservation economist Josep Oriol, rent a small house on Mogwooni Ranch, a sixteen-thousand-acre tract owned by Jackie Kenyon and his family....

  20. CHAPTER 16 Hard Choices
    (pp. 190-202)

    Arizona State University in Tempe reminds me of the East African interior in one sense: the heat. It is an extreme heat and an extremely dry heat. As I venture out on the campus, I feel myself wilting like a tender green sprout. The air seems to suck greedily at the pores of my skin, and I feel like red-hot rivets are being driven into my skull by the cruel sun. Still, I’ve experienced such heat before, from the California desert to the border of Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, and I know I’ll acclimate. Certainly, everyone else I see here...

  21. CHAPTER 17 The Nation on a Plate
    (pp. 203-213)

    Radio is a lively affair in Nairobi, a medium that provides a good measure of the national mood. Kenyans have strong and disparate opinions, and they are more than willing to share them in venues where they feel secure and comfortable; these, unfortunately, are few.

    Though a nominal democracy, the government is heavy-handed in its attempts to silence critics. In 2006, masked thugs raided the newsroom of Kenya’s oldest newspaper, theStandard,and the offices of the Kenya Television Network. Several days earlier, the paper and station had run stories on secret meetings between President Mwai Kibaki and his arch...

  22. CHAPTER 18 Topsoil and Condoms
    (pp. 214-224)

    Sometimes the white-hot disputes between animal rights advocates and traditional conservationists— between people who consider every wild animal’s life sacred and those who feel it may be necessary to kill some game in order to preserve functioning ecosystems—seem ridiculous, lunatic even, comparable to fighting over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. I was struck with such a sense of the absurd while looking at a World Bank graph on Kenya’s population growth.

    The line was clean and almost straight, rising at an initial angle of perhaps 20 degrees in 1960, when the...

  23. CHAPTER 19 Summing Up in Diani
    (pp. 225-236)

    Field research is difficult in Kenya with its particular physical and emotional demands. For me, this especially applies to extended sojourns in Nairobi. Getting around the rural areas of the country can be grueling, even dangerous, but the effort is counterbalanced by the inspiration I always find in the East African landscape and sky. It is the cities—Nairobi in particular—that wring me out like a dishrag.

    At one point toward the end of my research, I was required to stay in Nairobi for more than a week. It was a particularly frustrating period, coming at the end of...

  24. Recommended Reading
    (pp. 237-240)
  25. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 241-242)
  26. Index
    (pp. 243-254)
  27. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)