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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 391-405

A Cultural Herpetology of Nile Crocodiles in Africa


Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck University of London; Research initiated at: Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK

Correspondence Address:
Simon Pooley
Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck University of London; Research initiated at: Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.197609

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Human-wildlife conflict is a growing problem worldwide wherever humans share landscapes with large predators, and negative encounters with eight species of the crocodilians is particularly widespread. Conservationists' responses to these adverse encounters have focused on the ecological and behavioural aspects of predators, rather than on the social, political, and cultural contexts, which have threatened their existence in the first place. Few studies have thus far tried to understand the rich, varied, contradictory, and complex relations that exist between particular humans and human societies, and particular predators and groups of predators. It is in the spirit of Brian Morris's explorations of the interactional encounters and co-produced sociabilities that exist between humans and animals in specific places and regions that this paper offers a cultural herpetology (an account of human-crocodile interrelations) of the Nile crocodile (Crocodilus niloticus and C. suchus) in Africa. It draws on extensive historical documentation of the interactions of humans and crocodiles across Africa to examine how diverse and complex human responses to Nile crocodiles have been, and continue to be, and suggests some implications for improving human-crocodile relations.


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