Securing Conservation: The Politics of Anti-Poaching and Conservation Law Enforcement in Mozambique
Masse, Francis Denis
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This study examines how state and non-state actors are responding to the escalation of commercial rhino and elephant poaching happening within and across Mozambiques borders. Increasingly framed as a combined ecological and security threat, we see the rise in poaching being met with a parallel intensification in security-based efforts to address the problem. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork with anti-poaching groups, this study investigates how these efforts are ushering in an unprecedented era of securitized conservation and an expanding roster of more-than-conservation actors, interests, and practices. I argue the shifting realities and concerns of commercial poaching are (re-)shaping the logics and practices of anti-poaching, security, conservation, and the processes through which certain species, spaces, and movements are secured. In developing this argument, this study offers three core contributions. First, I develop an approach to studying conservation security and securitisation more broadly through a combined political-ecological, political-geographical, and micropolitical framework. Uncovering and making sense of the everyday practices and lived realities of anti-poaching personnel enables an understanding of the interplay between changing human-environment relations, attempts to intervene in and control these, and broader political-geographic processes and concerns related to territory, sovereignty, and security. Second, this study analyzes how state and non-state actors deploy various modes of discursive and material power to secure spaces of conservation and the nonhuman. In doing so, it pushes debates on the logics, operations, spatialities, and interconnections between various modes of power in new directions. Third, this dissertation contributes to how we understand the state and its relationship to conservation and wildlife by focusing on the ways in which this relationship is productive of and relates to broader statemaking processes concerning territory, security, and development. These insights help further our understanding of how changing geographies of power, conservation, and security articulate with broader and novel political-ecological and political-geographical dynamics of wildlife crime to produce and perpetuate violent and exclusionary nature-society relations.