Although wildlife fascinates citizens of industrialized countries, little is known about the politics of wildlife policy in Africa. In this innovative book, Clark Gibson challenges the rhetoric of television documentaries and conservation organizations to explore the politics behind the creation and change of wildlife policy in Africa. This book examines what Clark views as a central puzzle in the debate: Why do African governments create policies that apparently fail to protect wildlife? Moving beyond explanations of bureaucratic inefficiency and corrupt dictatorships, Gibson argues that biologically disastrous policies are retained because they meet the distributive goals of politicians and bureaucrats. Using evidence from Zambia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, Gibson shows how institutions encourage politicians and bureaucrats to construct wildlife policies that further their own interests. Different configurations of electoral laws, legislatures, party structures, interest groups, and traditional authorities in each country shape the choices of policymakers - many of which are not consonant with conservation. This book will appeal to students of institutions, comparative politics, natural resource policymaking, African politics, and wildlife conservationists.
• No other current, systematic study of the politics of conservation in Africa is available • Uses electoral, archival, and interview data to test theory • First book to use theoretical tools of the new institutionalism to address African wildlife conservation • Interviews of different key players at multiple levels - president of country, wildlife scout, poacher, member of parliament, party boss, etc.
1. Politics, institutions, and animals: explaining content, continuity, and change of African wildlife policy; 2. Unkept promises and party largesse: the politics of wildlife in the independence period; 3. The political logic of poaching in one-party states; 4. The conservationists strike back: 'community-based' wildlife policy and the politics of structural choice, 1983–91; 5. The consequences of institutional design: the impact of 'community-based' wildlife management programs at the local level; 6. Conclusion: the political economy of wildlife policy in Africa.