By Judith Krauss, University of Sheffield (UK)
What has CONVIVA Tanzania been up to? In the fourth episode of the convivial conservation podcast, Prof Dan Brockington (University of Sheffield) speaks to Dr Mathew Bukhi Mabele and Dr Wilhelm Kiwango, the Tanzanian team of the CONVIVA – convivial conservation research project funded by NORFACE/Belmont Forum.
Wilhelm and Mathew, both from the University of Dodoma, detail their research on human-lion interactions in the Ruaha-Rungwa landscape in Tanzania. Wilhelm first reflects on his trip to Kenya to visit the Big Life Foundation and the Lion Guardians (Wilhelm has also written a blog about his experience here). A particular lesson learnt is how much context matters: whereas in Kenya, the projects deal with fairly homogenous ethnic groups, the diversity of communities and livelihoods in the Tanzanian context would make transferring any insights directly challenging and requires more innovative thinking from convivial conservation. Nevertheless, Wilhelm’s trip has also inspired the CONVIVA Tanzania team to think about the viability of a community conservation insurance scheme to mitigate the risks of livestock depredation by lions by offering an alternative funding mechanism for conservation to e.g. tourism.
Next, Mathew and Wilhelm reflect on their writing projects, including a paper led by Wilhelm on adapting convivial conservation to the Tanzanian context, and an article led by Mathew on using insights from Ubuntu, a southern African ethic of care for humans and nonhumans, to enrich convivial conservation and safeguard just conservation. In addition, they are hoping that on-going both quantitative and qualitative fieldwork will facilitate further publications and work on e.g. a conservation basic income in Tanzania. Finally, Mathew reflects on a blog he co-wrote with Laila Sandroni, Ariadne Collins and June Rubis to call for deeper reflection on what we mean by decolonizing conservation. They contend that fundamentally, decolonizing conservation is premised on epistemic disruption, i.e. questioning the systems of knowledge and power which have produced many conservation problems in the Global South.
The fourth episode of the convivial conservation podcast is available here.