“The Big Conservation Lie”: A presentation by Mordecai Ogada

“It’s a small book”, says Mordecai Ogada at the beginning of his presentation about the book he co-authored with award-winning Kenyan journalist John Mbaria. “But it’s a small book that I hope will gain some momentum of ideas in other people.” The book is “The Big Conservation Lie: The Untold Story of Wildlife Conservation in Kenya”. Conservation Watch is posting Ogada’s presentation in the hope of adding to that momentum of ideas.

Mordecia Ogada is a carnivore ecologist. He has been involved in conservation work for sixteen years in Kenya and other parts of Africa. His focus is on human-wildlife conflict mitigation and carnivore conservation. From 2011 to 2014, Ogada was the Executive Director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum.

Ogada’s presentation was at the Colorado State University Africa Center in March 2017.

As Stephen Corry, director of Survival International comments,

“Everyone interested in conservation should spend 1.5 hrs listening to this. It’s long, but really blows the lid of the myths, and lies, peddled by the conservation industry.”

The whole presentation is excellent. Ogada is an entertaining speaker and raises important questions about the way conservation is carried out in Kenya and Africa. It’s difficult to chose one part of the talk to highlight, but early on in his talk, Ogada asks “Where are we?” He illustrates his answer to this question with a cartoon:

Here’s how Ogada describes the current state of conservation in Kenya – in particular Laikipia County, where Ogada works:

Here is a cartoon that I think sort of illustrates part of where we are. Certainly the part of Kenya where I am. You have charismatic endangered wild species, in a range land, non-protected area that is used pretty much like a Trojan Horse, that covers up for the militarisation, fencing, and basically annexation of vast lands. That’s simply how it is.

In many parts of Africa, conservation goes along with controlling lands in one way or another. It’s rarely practised at the level of just looking at the species and the issues, it always includes controlling lands, for better or for worse.

And you see the pastoralists, they’re running away from the guns with their cows and goats. It’s instructive, the relative size of the people. The practitioners are huge. The tourists are huge. Pastoralists are really small.

That’s how it happens.

I’m currently reading Ogada and Mbaria’s book, ‘The Big Conservation Lie’, and I’ll write a review on Conservation Watch as soon as I’ve finished it. In the meantime, please watch Mordecai Ogada’s presentation. Conservation Watch looks forward to your thoughts in the comments following this post.

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  1. Excellent! I was late at the Office hearing this presentation. Just bought the book and recommended it to all my networks. Yes, it is Excellent!

  2. Louise Arnott

    Incredibly enlightening!
    In the process of purchasing the book, recommended reading for students doing Internships in Kenya , as my daughter will be doing in the near future!

  3. Thiong'o Kihato

    Cant wait to read this book.

  4. Jalaal Lekalantula

    The best gift readers can give to our wildlife in Kenya is to stop donating to the conservancies whose business is build on greed, hypocrisy, lies and wanton grabbing of lands and wildlife

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