Green violence: Rhino poaching and thewar to save southern africa's peace parks

Bram Büscher*, Maano Ramutsindela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Over a thousand rhinos were killed in 2013 and 2014 as the poaching crisis in Southern Africa reached massive proportions, with major consequences for conservation and other political dynamics in the region. The article documents these dynamics in the context of the ongoing development and establishment of "peace parks": large conservation areas that cross international state boundaries. The rhino-poaching crisis has affected peace parks in the region, especially the flagship Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In order to save both peace parks and rhinos, key actors such as the South African government, the Peace Parks Foundation, and the general public responded to the poaching crisis with increasingly desperate measures, including the deployment of a variety of violent tactics and instruments. The article critically examines these methods of 'green violence' and places them within the broader historical and contemporary contexts of violence in the region and in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. It concludes that attempting to save peace parks through 'green violence' represents a contradiction, but that this contradiction is no longer recognized as such, given the historical positioning of peace parks in the region and popular discourses of placing poachers in a 'space of exception'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalAfrican Affairs
Issue number458
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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