"Humans are the largest predator": ethnography in Portuguese areas for lynx reintroduction
Margarida Lopes Fernandes
Amélia Frazão-Moreira (CRIA-NOVA FCSH)
Paper short abstract:
Reintroductions of wild species present an interesting anthropological terrain. We are studying the case of the Iberian lynx reintroduction and we explore the multiple reactions to the "natural parks conservation" policy and human coexistence with "others"
Paper long abstract:
Reintroductions of wild species have been response actions to species extinction crises. They present an interesting anthropological terrain as they a) reveal conflicts between local populations and central political decisions; b) expose differing perceptions about wildlife and nature conservation c) offer new scenarios for human and non-human interactions d) bring local ecological knowledge into contact with scientific biological expertise. We are studying the case of the Iberian lynx reintroduction in Portugal conducting semi-structured interviews in two classified areas. The ethnographic approach intends to understand how a wild carnivore would be integrated, the human practices in areas of potential conflict, how key actors position themselves and contest "receiving the lynx" during a "negotiating process", and how external conservation projects are viewed. Results point to a dominant discourse where nature is commodified. A species historically considered as a vermin it is now a symbol of conservation and a way of claiming for benefits. The lynx is still categorized as a predator that competes in hunting but humans are also said to be "the greatest predators" perhaps an image of how we see ourselves acting in the global ecosystem. Local beliefs such as the widespread release of wild animals or placing wild predators in a fenced area without humans, are explored. They are reactions to the "natural parks conservation" policy or to the "restoring natural ecosystems" idea. They also reflect the human-biosphere relationship in constant change, the rural lifestyle under macro-European agriculture policies, and a variety of values towards coexistence with "others".
Environmental crisis, humans and all others