Good fences make good neighbours : a qualitative, interpretive study of human–baboon and human–human conflict on the Cape Peninsula

Terblanche, Renelle (2015-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Picturesque Cape Town is the epitome of an urban/nature interface but one within which chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) face slander for transgressing both the socially constructed human/animal and nature/culture divide, and/or the actual, physical borderlines associated with these divides. The difficulties associated with retaining baboons in nature, because of their ability to traverse physical boundaries, have led to human–baboon conflict. Even though research focusing on baboon biology on the Cape Peninsula is abundant, comparatively little attention has been paid to the human aspects of the conflict. By making use of a social constructionist theoretical framework, I wished to establish what attitudes and values play a defining role in different social constructions of chacma baboons, specifically those who often cross the urban/nature divide; what these different social constructions are; whether they differ among the various stakeholders that were included in this research; and whether there is a willingness amongst stakeholders to adjust to, accommodate, or at least understand “other” social constructions. The research is strongly motivated by a suggestion in the literature that human–human conflict underpins human–wildlife conflict. The main data collection method used in this research project was personal, semi-structured interviews with members of various stakeholder groups that are involved in the Cape Peninsula’s “baboon debate”, i.e. governmental institutions, nongovernmental organisations, researchers, representatives of residential associations, local residents and journalists. In order to increase the trustworthiness of my data and to gain an enhanced understanding of the complex social interactions, practices and belief systems which are embedded within human–baboon conflicts, I also analysed the discourse embedded in numerous forms of documentation that refer to the Cape Peninsula’s baboons. The findings from this research provide evidence that conflicts over beliefs and values, conflicts of interest, and conflicts over process are the prominent underlying causes of human– human conflict regarding baboons and baboon management on the Cape Peninsula. Conflicts over beliefs and values seem to underpin all types of human–human conflict regarding baboons on the Cape Peninsula, as human–baboon conflict is riddled with the Cartesian dualisms of urban (or culture) versus nature; human versus animal; biocentrism versus anthropocentrism; and rationalism versus affective social action. The opposition between the two ontologies of rationalism and affective social action, which reflect divergent ways of thinking about baboons and are central to individual’s support of certain baboon-management techniques, is especially pronounced. Moreover, the ability of the Cape Peninsula’s baboons to transgress the nature/culture, and even the human/animal, borderline not only leads to conflict between humans and baboons, but also among humans. This thesis recommends that, in order to effectively address human–human conflict over beliefs and values, as well as human–baboon conflict, the numerous stakeholders on the Cape Peninsula should identify a common significance of baboons. While I would refrain from declaring that human–human conflict is the actual source of human–baboon conflict, addressing the human dimensions of human–wildlife conflict remains an important though neglected issue.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Skilderagtige Kaapstad is die toonbeeld van ’n stedelike/natuur skeidingsvlak, maar een waarbinne die Kaapse bobbejane (Papio ursinus) beswadder word, omdat hulle die sosiaalgekonstrueerde mens/dier en natuur/kultuur skeidslyn en/of die werklike, fisiese grens wat met hierdie skeidslyn geassosieer is, skend. As gevolg van hul vermoë om fisiese grense te oorkruis, het die probleme met die inperking van bobbejane in die natuur tot mens–bobbejaan konflik gelei. Ondanks die feit dat navorsing met die fokus op bobbejaan-biologie op die Kaapse Skiereiland volop is, is relatief min aandag geskenk aan die menslike aspekte van die konflik. Deur gebruik te maak van ’n sosiaal-konstruksionistiese teoretiese raamwerk, wou ek vasstel watter ingesteldhede en waardes ’n bepalende rol speel in verskillende sosiale konstruksies van Kaapse bobbejane, veral diegene wat dikwels die stedelike/natuur skeidingsvlak oorkruis; wat hierdie verskillende sosiale konstruksies is; of hulle verskil tussen die verskeie rolspelers wat ingesluit is in hierdie navorsingsprojek; en of daar ’n bereidwilligheid is onder belanghebbendes om aan te pas by “ander” sosiale konstruksies, dit tegemoet te kom, of ten minste te verstaan. Die navorsing is sterk gemotiveer deur ’n voorstel in die literatuur dat mens–mens konflik mens–wildlewe konflik onderskraag. Die hoof data-insamelingsmetode wat in hierdie navorsingsprojek gebruik is, was persoonlike, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude met lede van verskillende belanghebbende groepe wat betrokke is in die Kaapse Skiereiland se “bobbejaandebat”, d.w.s regeringsinstellings, nieregeringsorganisasies, navorsers, verteenwoordigers van residensiële verenigings, plaaslike inwoners en joernaliste. Ten einde die betroubaarheid van my data te versterk en om ’n beter begrip te ontwikkel van die ingewikkelde sosiale interaksies, praktyke en oortuigings wat ingebed is in mens–bobbejaan konflikte, het ek ook die diskoers ontleed wat ingebed is in talle vorme van dokumentasie wat verwys na die Kaapse Skiereiland se bobbejane. Die bevindinge van hierdie navorsing verskaf bewyse dat konflikte oor oortuigings en waardes, konflikte van belang, en konflikte oor prosesse die prominente onderliggende oorsake van mens–mens konflik rakende bobbejane en bobbejaanbestuur op die Kaapse Skiereiland is. Konflikte oor oortuigings en waardes blyk onderliggend te wees aan alle vorme van mens–mens konflik ten opsigte van bobbejane in die Kaapse Skiereiland, aangesien mens–bobbejaan konflik deurtrek is met die Cartesiese dualismes van stedelike (of kultuur) teenoor die natuur; mens teenoor dier; biosentrisme teenoor antroposentrisme; en rasionalisme teenoor affektiewe sosiale aksie. Die teenoorgesteldheid tussen die twee ontologieë van rasionalisme en affektiewe sosiale aksie, wat uiteenlopende maniere van dink oor bobbejane weerspieël en sentraal is tot individue se ondersteuning van sekere bobbejaanbestuurtegnieke, is veral ooglopend. Verder lei die vermoë van die Kaapse Skiereiland se bobbejane om die natuur/kultuur en selfs die mens/dier grenslyn te oorkruis, nie slegs tot konflik tussen mense en bobbejane nie, maar ook tussen mense. Hierdie tesis beveel aan dat, ten einde mens–mens konflik rakende oortuigings en waardes, asook mens–bobbejaan konflik, aan te spreek, moet die talle belanghebbendes in die Kaapse Skiereiland ’n gemeenskaplike betekenis van bobbejane identifiseer. Terwyl ek myself sou weerhou om te verklaar dat mens–mens konflik die wesenlike bron van mens–bobbejaan konflik is, bly die menslike dimensies van mens–wildlewe konflik ’n belangrike, dog verwaarloosde kwessie

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