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White Man's Game: Saving Animals, Rebuilding…

White Man's Game: Saving Animals, Rebuilding Eden, and Other Myths of…

by Stephanie Hanes

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145683,257 (4.4)5



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Amazing is an understatement. If you want a book that will make you rethink conservation, tourism, adventure, colonialism, and wildlife this is it. It starts with an eye opening look at a "game reserve" and their population of African painted dogs. It quickly becomes apparent that the "game reserve" model of conservation is unsustainable. A game reserve is a few hundred miles essentially fenced off from the rest of the world with a small amount of wealthy tourists allowed to view the animals in "the wild". While it sounds ideal (especially if you're wealthy) it is impossible to have enough range area and breeding stock for the the African painted dogs. This starts the author down the road to trying to figure out what works. Along the way she covers the history of African exploration, eco-tourism, wildlife management, and all the lies we tell ourselves. An absolute first rate book. ( )
  doomjesse | Jun 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was an excellent read and it offered critical insight as to why European/American efforts to help protect wildlife, or people outside their own cultures is often a failure. For example, Hanes discusses how those who have funded wildlife refuge efforts in African have failed to understand not only the cultures they are interacting with their perspectives on other living species but also the social economic and political variables. This lack of understanding has led to billions being invested in creating animal sanctuaries yet many species in Africa are still endangered. Hanes offers some practical solutions and an understanding not only of how these efforts impact the local economy but how effective they actually are at promoting their stated ideals ( )
  arelenriel | Jun 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow, this book was an education within an education; and a LONG overdue look into what Western/European/American involvement, not matter how well-intentioned, ends up doing in place we blindly enter and inflict our judgments, beliefs, stories on developing countries, and asserting (horribly misinformed) dominion over everything in our paths. I have seen first hand many of the botched NGO programs in other countries, and how both the humans and animals tend to actually suffer more from American involvement. Also, egads, I have disliked Bono and his ilk for their God complexes and portraying the world's people as simpletons in need of charity. Global markets, beliefs and realities are vast, complex and also have huge implications on a local level. And they look nothing like we want them to.

Anyway, this is a necessary treatise that breaks open the reality behind the elite Democrats, the supposed big green organizations and may of the other frauds that infect much of the developing world. Gregory Carr and his Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique are the poster children (and maybe unfair targets) for what can go wrong, and how badly we want to believe we are Gods in this all, but he wasn't the only one. I was, however, newly stunned at the lengths people go through to manipulate the publications, journalism industry and films to falsely show the story we are supposed to believe, here back home in the States. There is a scene with a "re-homed" elephant coming to a gruesome and pointless end in the name of "conservation" (the reality of which was not even remotely thought through). I'm not sure I will ever forget that. It would be super easy to get utterly depressed from the damage that has been done (some of which is clearly irreversible). That being said, the truth HAS to be discussed to find any kind of common ground, amidst and among the people, natural places, animals and changing ecological/social times, to effectuate change and/or growth in so many areas of the world. The truth may also be they are simply better off without us. I highly recommend this book if you want to have any real discussion on the realities of conservation in Africa. There is just too much misinformation out there and simply being of voting left sadly is no guarantee of anything. In fact, maybe the opposite. I give credit to the author, to actually go out and get this book published ... against some pretty sizable odds. ( )
  CarolynSchroeder | Jun 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I became interested in the history of Africa when I met a Yoruba babalawo and converted to Ifá, an indigenous African faith. Through him I learned of the differences in the thoughts of Western “reformers’” and the views of the people already at the site the reformers tried to correct. White Man’s Game by journalist Stephanie Hanes is an excellent analysis of the problems of “one-story” history. Her analogy of a philanthropist from Singapore trying to help save the US school system (page 249-50) was especially apt. Yes, I think the country would be better off without them.

Europeans and European-Americans view of Africa, it’s problems and potentialities, all swerve somewhere around the views of Africa from the Euro-centrist viewpoint. This tendency, or possibly one-sightedness, is the cause of our failure to “solve” any of Africa’s problems. Since my view tends towards an African-centrist, or, more often, an indigenous-centrist viewpoint I felt like standing up and cheering.

Mrs. Hanes' attempts to understand the history and faith of the long-time (generations long) residents of Africa, and especially those of the Gorongosa area is exceptional. She manages to get outside the Western “One World” viewpoint that she describes on page 211:

“… – the essential approach of National Geographic documentaries and Live Aid consciousness raising – may be outward-looking and, in its own way, caring. But it leaves us decidedly unprepared to recognize the realities that other people inhabit. We have become so good at reciting our own script that, on some level, we recognize only those actions and plot points that fit within it. We are expert curators, immediately – almost subconsciously – tossing everything else aside.”

From missing the fact that in the indigenous belief the color of evil spirits and war is red as we tour the area in our pricey red helicopter, to the legal dichotomy between calling what white men do hunting and what black men do as poaching for the same activity, the other side’s story is minimized or deleted.

“This is what I finally realized in Africa. Stories are true in that they come from somewhere, they grow, they take form, they shape lives and realities. But if you start craving truth in the larger sense, you need to step back and pay attention more broadly to the entire accumulation of stories – the varied voices overlapping in a chorus, each one offering something on its own but fully meaningful only when heard with the others as a single whole.” page 247

The chorus of stories Stephanie Hanes tells is a view of Africa that I had never heard. I am looking forward to reading some of the books and articles she identified in her notes at the end of the book. That itself is a recommendation for a book. That it encourages you to look for more. ( )
  Bidwell-Glaze | Jun 15, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Seldom have I read a book with such mixed emotions. The author of this work presents a broad analysis of humanitarian, environmental and conservation programs launched across the African continent by well meaning, white, American and/or European philanthropists and charitable organizations.
The primary focus of the analysis is Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, the restoration of which was undertaken by American technology billionaire Greg Carr and his Carr Foundation.

Carr identified Mozambique in general, and Gorongosa in particular, as the ideal place to make a difference in the world. Racked for many years by a disastrous civil war, the country appeared to be on the verge of recovery, and the previously stunning Gorongosa region provided an opportunity for development that could improve the lives of its inhabitants. So, Carr began pouring tens of millions of dollars into rehabilitating and repopulating the Park, with an eye toward tapping tourism dollars.

The author tells the Gorongosa story while moving to other such well-meaning African efforts in order to examine whether the template in place is the best available for achieving the results desired. Most particularly, she points out the lack of local input and the cultural insensitivity that seems to mark most such efforts.

Now, it would be hard to fault the Western efforts to address such issues as famine, malaria eradication, clean water and sanitation. More troubling, however, are the environmental and conservation programs which impact indigenous populations on the basis of advancing Western values which may not be shared or desired by those on the ground. Of course, those should be the functions of local, state and national government. Park concessions and projects of the scope of Gorongosa are national in scale, and while cultural sensitivity and public relations are important on a local basis, there will always be opposition and that is largely a political question to be addressed by the government in question.

The author, while making some very good points, is incredibly naïve in other areas. In her campaign for more local involvement, she borders on silly in part of the book where she acknowledges and seems to legitimize the native’s belief in spirits and witchcraft. She seems to insinuate that it is western bias that leads us to believe that our reliance on reason and science is somehow superior to Stone Age attribution of things not understood to evil spirits.

The natural conflict between “poachers” and conservation is another source of never ending drama in such programs. As she points out, one man’s poacher is another man’s subsistence hunter. A native African is poaching when he snares game for his family’s table, while rich, white Americans are shooting game for fun (albeit providing hard currency and jobs for the local economy). Again, however, this is a political question for the governments in question, not the conservationists. To think that this issue can be addressed locally is again naïve. You can either allow hunting in nature preserves, or prohibit it. There is no middle ground and no basis for negotiation, except with respect to Park boundaries.

Carr’s efforts in Gorongosa are admirable and in my political viewpoint preferable to simply giving people money or addressing disasters as they arise. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”, fits well in this scenario. By essentially attempting to create another Kruger National Park, Carr is trying to build an economic engine that can benefit many more people, far longer than your standard economic “aid package”. Unfortunately, the track record for such efforts in Africa are similar to those of the various national governments in place since the mid-20th century; not encouraging.

The author in this case, while acknowledging Carr’s good intentions, is very free with her criticism, without offering much in the way of solutions. “Work more closely with the locals” is not a solution when the local’s desires are directly opposed to the project you are sponsoring. If the answer to that is to abandon the project, you must then answer the question that Carr posed to the author; “Do you think they would be better off if we weren’t here?” ( )
  santhony | Jun 14, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805097163, Hardcover)

A behind-the-scenes look at the celebrated yet troubled Gorongosa wildlife preserve, where Western attempts at philanthropy are colliding with African culture and spiritual beliefs

The stunningly beautiful Gorongosa National Park, once the crown jewel of Mozambique, was nearly destroyed by decades of civil war. For American multimillionaire Greg Carr, a tech mogul seeking new challenges, it looked like a perfect place for Western philanthropy: under his guidance, he promised, Gorongosa would be revived as an ecological paradise. But what of the local Mozambicans themselves, who had been living in the area for centuries? In White Man's Game, journalist Stephanie Hanes traces Carr's effort to tackle one of the world's biggest environmental challenges, showing how the ambitious reconstruction turned into a dramatic collision of cultures.

In vivid, you-are-there stories, Hanes takes readers on a virtual safari into this remote corner of southern Africa. She faces down lions and malaria, describes what it takes to transport an elephant across international borders, and talks to park workers and wildlife poachers―who sometimes turn out to be the one and same. And she details the powerful spirit world that, the locals believe, surrounds the sacred Gorongosa mountain: spirits which the Westerners often dismiss as superstition, but which ultimately prove a far greater obstacle than any of them imagined.

A gripping narrative of environmentalists and warlords, elephants and rainmakers, poachers and millionaires, White Man's Game challenges the way we think about development and conservation.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 08 Mar 2016 06:16:48 -0500)

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