American Ethnological Society
Oral Presentation Session
In the second decade of the 21st century, online media sources ping and buzz reports of the increasingly violent and destructive methods impoverished Africans use to trade in the parts of threatened and endangered wildlife (the tusks of elephants, the horns of rhinoceros, the claws of lions). In response funding mounts to increase the security of wildlife protection via improved counter-intelligence and more boots on the ground. To some extent, critical social scientists have followed the scent; an important body of work now identifies and assesses the racialized dimensions of militarized anti-poaching responses. That work does not do enough, however, to address the relationships between “the foreigners (and descendants of white settlers) who are the global face of African wildlife conservation” (Garland 2008) and the Africans variously employed and/or variously displaced by conservation. In Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park (LNP), white settlers and “conservation expats” have enjoyed relatively high levels of access to the benefits of resident labor and relatively low levels of accountability for residents’ ongoing and accumulating losses and dispossessions. Among these are three former employers of LNP residents: a Portuguese cattleman and mine labor recruiter, a Rhodesian game hunter and tourist concessioner, and a South African fiscal (game ranger) and jailer. I place my interviews about resident relationships with these men in conversation with feminist scholarship that demonstrates how environmental protection also protects masculinity and whiteness. Because white settlers-turned-conservationists and black laborers-turned-poachers co-produce conservation landscapes and imaginaries, conservation expatriates merit more attention in critical analyses of environmental dispossession.