Established in 2003, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park encompasses land in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Prioritizing wildlife over people, it paved the way for human rights abuses by park rangers, increased human-wildlife conflict, and the forced resettlement of up to 6,000 Mozambicans. Pushing wildlife conservation without consideration for its deeply problematic local consequences is at the heart of The Challenges of Transfrontier Conservation in Southern Africa: The Park Came After Us.
Chapter 1: “The World’s Greatest Animal Kingdom”: Making the Great Limpopo
Chapter 2: “No One Could Think of Anything Better”: Social Ecology in [and Near] the Kruger National Park
Chapter 3: “How Can You Have an Election When You Don’t Know What You’re Electing?”: Putting A Participatory Face on the Limpopo National Park
Chapter 4: First Questions, Then Beatings: Enforcing the Rules of Conservation
Chapter 5: “This Place No Longer Belongs to Us, it Belongs to Great Limpopo”: Past and Future Resettlement
Chapter 6: Speaking Shangaan Across Borders: The Language of Land and Leaving It
Chapter 7: The Coming After
Rachel DeMotts is associate professor and director of the Environmental Policy and Decision-Making Program at the University of Puget Sound.
"This is an important book for environmental historians working on conservation in post-colonial Africa and particularly southern Africa. It provides insights into topical issues affecting conservation of flora and fauna in southern Africa. The book provides a historical analysis on the exclusion of the local residents in line with the establishment game parks. It shows how elitism has been a factor in environmental conservation, and this has been explained through the use of the top down approach by the responsible authorities, in this case the Zimbabwean, Mozambican, and South African governments [...] the book offers incredible insights of African environmental history."
– African Studies Quarterly
"Heralded as a grand, post-Apartheid reconciliation of nature and society, the Great Limpopo Park devolved into coercion, violence, and economic failure. Rachel DeMotts traces that decline through ethnography and astute policy analysis. Her book serves as a cautionary tale against the intermittent megalomania of conservation."
– David McDermott Hughes, author of Whiteness in Zimbabwe: Race, Landscape, and the Problem of Belonging
"More than a dozen years ago, the World Parks Congress in Durban devoted itself to the theme 'people and parks', acknowledging that nature's conservation was dependent upon accommodation with the people and communities dependent upon it for their very livelihoods. Yet, fortress-style conservation remains alive and well, especially as the revenues from tourism help keep states economically afloat. In this book, DeMotts illustrates local people's on-going struggles for realization of their basic rights as they are bullied by the 'forces of nature'. At turns heart-rending and mobilizing, the book asks the reader to reconsider received wisdoms – regarding 'peace parks', conservation, biological diversity, but most of all whether it is appropriate to continue to separate humans from nature. If we persist with the myth that nature is 'out there', we will never be able to move toward policies and practices that are ecologically sustainable, economically viable, and socially just."
– Larry A. Swatuk, University of Waterloo
"Rachel DeMotts offers a clearly written, compelling story about participation gone wrong in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier National Park in Southern Africa. Her story moves beyond the critiques of participation we have become so familiar with, into a richly detailed and candid following of the way in which projects cloaked in the 'participatory' label actually unfold on the ground, in all its problematic complexity. A must read for anyone interested in conservation and participatory processes – to better understand how "participation" can be invoked to continue to exclude local communities from conservation."
– Mara J. Goldman, University of Colorado-Boulder