Elephants over the Cliff: Explaining Wildlife Killings in Tanzania | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
March 2015
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ISBN / Resource ID: 

Many incidents of elephant killings have recently taken place in Tanzania as well as in other African countries. Such events are usually presented as results of the rising global demand for ivory. As we show in this case study, however, not all violence against elephants is driven by the ivory trade. This article presents an event that occurred in West Kilimanjaro in 2009 when numerous villagers chased a herd of elephants over a cliff, killing six of them. Using a ‘web of relations’ approach, we seek to uncover the underlying as well as the immediate factors that led to this incident. A severe drought sparked off the event as elephants increasingly raided crops and destroyed water pipes. There are growing elephant and human populations in the area, which must be understood in the context of land use changes. Large areas have in various ways been turned into different types of protected areas during the last few decades as results of efforts by conservation NGOs and governmental agencies. In between these areas, people try to sustain a living on the remaining land, while encountering increased problems with wildlife. Conservation in the study area takes place without local communities having any real influence on decision-making. This leads to a feeling of being marginalized and disempowered, which again causes resistance to conservation, as in this case.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Mariki, Sayuni B.
Svarstad, Hanne
Benjaminsen, Tor A.


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

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