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A critical review of the scientific knowledge produced about conservation-related issues in an African wildlife conservation hotspot: the Amboseli ecosystem (Kenya).

Authors: François Mialhe*, University of Lyon, FR, Arthur Bostvironnois, University of Lyon, FR, Yanni Gunnell, University of Lyon, FR, Mara Goldman, University of Boulder-Colorado, Ryan Unks, University of Lyon, FR, Nicolas Dendoncker, University of Namur, BE, Hervé Fritz, University of Lyon, FR
Topics: Environmental Science, Cultural and Political Ecology, Animal Geographies
Keywords: wildlife conservation, environmental knowledge, science studies, political ecology
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Political ecology has highlighted the often partiality of knowledge produced about environmental changes and degradation. These shortcomings can have concrete political, social and cultural implications through the utilization and circulation of scientific knowledge (SK). This paper produces a critical analysis of the body of SK which has been produced on the Amboseli ecosystem (Kenya) order to (i) understand how particular agendas, epistemologies and beliefs are intertwined into this production, and discuss (ii) the relation between the SK produced and the subsequent implementation of conservation policies, (iii) the limitations in the perspective of others epistemologies and standpoints, and (iv) some means to overcome these shortcomings.
The Amboseli ecosystem includes the Amboseli National Park and the Ilkisongo Maasai Group Ranches. Conversation and development have historically and until now reshaped the initially coupled human-natural system and rendered issues of co-existence between conservation, pastoralism and agriculture problematic.
We analyzed a dataset of ~200 papers published since the 1960s in order to test several hypotheses. H1 : Most of the knowledge was produced under the imprint of positivist epistemologies and dualist ontologies. H2: Zombie environmental theories are evident and the explanatory models produced based on simplistic beliefs. H3: Mismatches between spatial and temporal scales of analysis and scales of ecological process are poorly addressed and produce a tapestry of biased and fragmented knowledge. H4: Political doctrines and agendas, detectable in the papers or through their authors’ institutions, underlie the narrative. A mix of methods was utilized to answer the hypotheses: statistical, lexicometric, and qualitative.

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