‘Kenya’s “war on poaching”: Militarised solutions to a militarised problem?’

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Public discourse surrounding the poaching of elephants and their protection is peppered with militaristic terms, including ‘war’, ‘insurgency’, ‘armed conflict’ and a ‘battle for Africa’s elephants’. This has established a simple binary of war-by-poachers/war-on-poachers that has influenced both the stages of trafficking chains mostly targeted with interventions and the mode of such interventions. At the most extreme end of these militarisation narratives is the widely spread ‘ivory-terrorism nexus’ discourse. Yet recent research has demonstrated that the narrative of a prominent Al-Shabaab role in such a nexus East Africa has been significantly exaggerated. Ensuring accurate assessments of the nature of the challenges posed by poaching and trafficking is crucial, for it shapes the most appropriate countermeasures. Militarisation is not only articulated in a terrorism-ivory nexus context. It is more regularly deployed to describe a growing amplitude, variety and sophistication of the use of force by actors on both sides of the issue. However, militarisation constitutes only one dynamic in the current poaching and trafficking crisis. In isolation, it provides a crude understanding of the challenges associated with poaching networks and the countermeasures that have been deployed in response. A more nuanced appreciation must address the links between poaching and wider forms of criminality, the deployment of intelligence systems, and the development of community-based natural resource management. This chapter addresses these wider, linked phenomena in the context of debates over militarisation in Kenya.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMilitarised Responses to Transnational Organised Crime
Subtitle of host publicationThe War on Crime
EditorsTuesday Reitano, Sasha Jesperson, Lucia Bird Ruiz-Benitez de Lugo
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783319575650
ISBN (Print)9783319575643
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Oct 2017


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