Wildlife at War in Angola describes in fascinating detail the wildlife, wild places and wild personalities that occupied Angola's conservation landscape through four decades of war and a decade of peace. Intrigues, assassinations, corruption, greed and incompetence – during the colonial era, through the horrific war and most especially throughout the crony-capitalist kleptocracy of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos – have resulted in the extinction of most of its formerly abundant wildlife populations and the decay and erosion of a once endless Eden.
This is the first book to integrate the political, economic and environmental threads that account for the post-colonial tragedy of one of Africa's most biologically diverse countries. A corrupt government has robbed the country of its vast oil and diamond wealth, of its environmental health, of its morality and of its soul. It was not always so.
The author was appointed ecologist to Angola's National Parks in 1971. But the vast open spaces, peaceful stillness and tropical luxuriance that he found during the four years they spent exploring and developing the country's wildlife reserves was not to last. The powder keg of anger against centuries of colonial exploitation – of slavery, of forced labour and of an abusive system of penal settlement – could not be contained. Bloody nationalist uprisings led to the abandonment of Angola by Portugal and the transition from random guerrilla skirmishes with a colonial army into a brutal civil war that cost over one million lives. Despite its scarred history, the author believes the country can still rebuild its national parks and save much of its wildlife and wilderness. But this can only happen if the current ageing autocracy makes space for a new generation of Angolan conservationists.
Brian J. Huntley is an internationally respected conservationist with over 50 years of field research and management experience in many African countries and sub-Antarctic islands. He has initiated and led to successful conclusion several major interdisciplinary cooperative research and institutional development projects from the Cape to the Congo. Following retirement in 2009 as CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, he is currently engaged as an independent consultant on conservation research and implementation projects in many African countries and for various United Nations agencies.