Ongediertes : a critical qualitative study of farmer–black-backed jackal conflict and its management around the Square Kilometre Array core site in the Northern Cape, South Africa

Terblanche, Renelle (2020-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores farmer–jackal conflict and the most effective way to manage this relationship in the context of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in the Karoo and the human–human conflict surrounding it locally. The erection of the SKA radio telescope has drawn international attention to South Africa’s semi-arid Karoo region because of the astronomical significance of its science agenda. To ensure the optimal functionality of the Array, the South African state has purchased farms totalling approximately 130 000ha, which have been withdrawn from sheep production and placed under conservation management. Commercial farmers neighbouring the SKA core site have voiced concerns that this is threatening their livelihoods and the local economy; a major concern is that the park will become a haven for black-backed jackals which predate on their sheep. Using critical realism and political ecology for my theoretical framework, and drawing on the literature on human–wildlife conflict and social capital, I explore farmer–jackal conflict around the SKA core site and the proposed nature reserve. My primary research findings reveal the different understandings of jackals among the actors involved in jackal management, as well as the significance of the characterisation of jackals as ongediertes (literally, non-animals) in popular culture. I also show how power relations around knowledge production in jackal management are exercised, in particular the dominance of scientific knowledge over local knowledge, and consider the role of jackal management in collective action. My research methodology was qualitative, including semi-structured interviews with a variety of individual actors as well as extensive participant observation over a period of four years and documentary analysis, including on the history of sheep farming and conservation in the Karoo. My findings show that farmers’ perceptions of themselves as losing their autonomy and struggling to control jackal predation have been exacerbated by the arrival of the SKA; their struggles against the SKA and the jackal have thus become fused in complex ways, lending support to the idea of the jackal as a trope for the larger developments around the SKA. In this unequal relationship, the farmers find themselves dictated to not only by the professional scientific elites involved in jackal ecology but also by those involved in the yet more powerful science of radio astronomy. Both jackals and the SKA contravene farmers’ understanding of the ‘natural’ order in the Karoo, in which man controls nature (i.e. non-humans) to serve his needs, and undermine their former dominance. Farmers in the Kareeberg are struggling to re-assert their authority; in this context jackals are the one thing in their immediate environment which they feel they still have agency over and, as a result, the jackal has become the focus of farmers’ frustrations. This dissertation concludes that effective management of human–jackal conflict around the SKA core site (and thereby of the human–human conflict to which it is linked) requires an investment in building interpersonal and institutional trust as well as drawing on the resources of both scientific and local knowledge.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek boer–jakkals konflik en die doeltreffendste manier om hierdie verhouding te bestuur in die konteks van die Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radioteleskoop in die Karoo asook die plaaslike mens–mens konflik geassosieer met dit. Die oprigting van die SKA radioteleskoop het internasionale aandag gevestig op Suid-Afrika se half-dor Karoo streek vanweë die astronomiese beduidenis van sy wetenskaplike agenda. Om die optimale funksionering van die Array te verseker, het die Suid-Afrikaanse regering plase aangekoop van om-en-by 130 000ha, wat van skaapproduksie af onttrek is en onder bewaringsbestuur geplaas is. Kommersiële boere aangrensend aan die SKA-kernterrein het kommer uitgespreek dat dit hul lewensbestaan en die plaaslike ekonomie bedreig; ‘n groot kommer is dat die park ‘n toevlugsoord sal word vir rooijakkalse wat hulle skape vreet. Met behulp van kritiese realisme en politieke ekologie as my teoretiese raamwerk, en die literatuur oor mens–wildlewe konflik en sosiale kapitaal, ondersoek ek boer–jakkals konflik rondom die SKA-kernterrein en die voorgestelde natuurreservaat. My primêre navorsingsbevindinge openbaar die verskillende begrippe van jakkalse tussen die akteurs wat by jakkalsbestuur betrokke is, asook die beduidenis van jakkalse se karakterisering as ongediertes (letterlik, nie-diere) in populêre kultuur. Ek wys ook hoe magsverhoudinge rondom kennisproduksie in jakkalsbestuur uitgeoefen word, veral die oorheersing van wetenskaplike kennis oor plaaslike kennis én beskou die rol van jakkalsbestuur in kollektiewe optrede. My navorsingsmetodologie was kwalitatief, insluitend semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met ‘n verskeidenheid individuele akteurs, sowel as omvangryke deelnemer waarneming oor ‘n tydperk van vier jaar én dokumentêre analise, insluitend die geskiedenis van skaapboerdery en bewaring in die Karoo. My bevindings toon dat boere se persepsie van hulself as iemand wat hul outonomie verloor en sukkel om jakkals-predasie te beheer, vererger het met die koms van die SKA; hulle stryd teen die SKA en die jakkals het dus op ‘n ingewikkelde manier saamgesmelt, wat die idee van die jakkals as ‘n figuurlike uitdrukking vir ontwikkelings rondom die SKA, versterk het. In hierdie ongelyke verhouding vind die boere hulself voorgesê, nie net deur die professionele wetenskaplike elite betrokke by jakkalsekologie nie, maar ook deur diegene wat betrokke is by die nóg magtiger wetenskap van radio astronomie. Beide jakkalse en die SKA oortree boere se begrip van die ‘natuurlike’ orde in die Karoo, waarin die mens die natuur (d.w.s. nie-mense) beheer om in sy behoeftes te voorsien, en sy eertydse oorheersing ondermyn. Boere in die Kareeberg sukkel om hul gesag weer te laat geld; in hierdie konteks is jakkalse die een ding in hul onmiddellike omgewing wat hulle voel, hul nog agentskap oor beskik, en gevolglik het jakkalse die fokus van boere se frustrasies geword. Hierdie proefskrif kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat effektiewe bestuur van mens–jakkals konflik rondom die SKA-kernterrein (en daarmee saam die mens–mens konflik waaraan dit gekoppel is) ‘n belegging benodig in die opbou van interpersoonlike en institusionele vertroue, asook om gebruik te maak van bronne van beide wetenskaplike en plaaslike kennis.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107974
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