Fortress Conservation by Dan Brockington


Fortress Conservation

Title: Fortress Conservation: The Preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania
Author: Dan Brockington
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Anthropology, True stories, Science, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Ethnographic text
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: Number of species.

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Dan Brockington challenges the broad vision of Africa’s environment, history and society which drives conservation policies across the continent. He argues that his vision has been harmful, unjust and unnecessary in its effects on people at the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.

Do cattle destroy a wilderness?
Many ecologists question whether herds degrade the environment. They ask whether a wilderness has to be devoid of people. They voice the concern for the rights of the people excluded from the Reserve by politicians and judges.

Are the interests of people to give way to wildlife?
Exclusion policies are the norm of conservation. African governments gain easily collectable revenues from tourism. Western governments and donors form alliances with the African governments to sustain this vision.

Were the Maasai in Mkomazi long ago?
Conservation policy is based on a fallacious interpretation of the Reserve’s history and environment. The evictions have been economically damaging.

Do the foreign Trusts provide valid rehabilitation projects?
The Hollywood film about the work at Mkomazi “To Walk with Lions’ is used for fund-raising. Hello! reports on London parties. Books, films, television and magazines feed the search for a long-held dream of Africa. They gloss over what has happened to the people and their herds who have been moved out.


I found Fortress Conservation to be a good read. It gave a fascinating insight into conservation practices throughout Africa and the idea of ‘fortress conservation’. It was amazingly useful for my BA Hons thesis – focusing on conservation in Australia. The idea that fortress conservation is a ‘white man’s practice’ was fascinating to me. Although I did find some of his writing a little too academic and dry in places (hence the lower rating). I would recommend this book to others interested in conservation though.

This book raised a lot of complex issues – it wasn’t just about conserving the natural world, Brockington also investigated the cultural and social significance of this. Add in aspects of the conservation on colonialism, and I walked away from this book with a LOT of thoughts running through my head.

Not the book for everyone, but definitely worth a read if you have any interest in Africa, conservation or just the issues of the modern political and social climate.

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