Partitioned nature, privileged knowledge: Community-based conservation in Tanzania
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Community Based Conservation (CBC) has become the catch-all solution to the social and ecological problems plaguing traditional top-down, protectionist conservation approaches. CBC has been particularly popular throughout Africa as a way to gain local support for wildlife conservation measures that have previously excluded local people and their development needs. This article shows that, despite the rhetoric of devolution and participation associated with new CBC models, conservation planning in Tanzania remains a top-down endeavour, with communities and their specialized socio-ecological knowledge delegated to the margins. In addition to the difficulties associated with the transfer of power from state to community hands, CBC also poses complex challenges to the culture or institution of conservation. Using the example of the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, the author shows how local knowledge and the complexities of ecological processes challenge the conventional zone-based conservation models, and argues that the insights of local Maasai knowledge claims could better reflect the ecological and social goals of the new CBC rhetoric.