The "World's Biggest Zoo"? Elephants, Ecological Change, and the Contested Legacies of Conservation in the Kruger National Park
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This thesis explores landscape change in one of Africa’s biggest parks from the perspectives of its managers, the international conservation community, and media in South Africa and the United States. The surprising history of Kruger's elephant population reflects the complicated relationship between shifting wildlife management approaches, environmental ethics, and understandings of African nature, which continue to influence future conservation priorities. Elephants, because of their capacity to drive ecosystem change, expose a history of conflict over what nature means in the Kruger Park and how it should be managed. Current management philosophies in the park reflect the need to prepare for an uncertain future but also to confront an unsettled inheritance of the past. I delve into the 20th century chronicles of science, landscape aesthetics, wilderness ethics, and international politics that inform conservation in Kruger today.