Heritage Lost:The cultural impact of wildlife crime in South Africa
Keywords:Wildlife crime, illegal trade in wildlife, poaching, Big Five, rhino, heritage, culture, cultural victimisation
AbstractCrimes against wildlife have come to the fore in South Africa in the past decade – largely due to the dramatic escalation of rhino poaching. As a major custodian of iconic species such as the Big Five, South Africa is at the core of the illicit wildlife economy. Since the country is reliant on wildlife tourism for economic development, poaching brings serious financial consequences. These negative impacts, however, extend far beyond the economy and also protrude into the cultural sphere. While some South Africans may be unmoved by the plight of the country’s wildlife as a result of a lack of exposure thereto, many feel socially linked to wildlife. Concerned citizens often consider that future generations will not be able to experience wildlife due to extinction, and will thus be deprived of their rightful cultural inheritance. The impact of wildlife crime may therefore be seen as a form of cultural victimisation.
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