Project title: Ongediertes: A critical qualitative study of the political ecology of black-backed jackal and its management around the Square Kilometre Array core site.
Renelle’s research interests encompass wildlife conservation; endangered species; the neo-liberalisation of nature; and human–wildlife conflict. Her dissertation explores the dynamics entrenched in human–black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) conflict in the specific context of South Africa’s Karoo region. The erection of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope has drawn international attention to this semi-arid region as a significant zone for astronomical research. In order to ensure the functionality of this development, additional properties are being purchased around the SKA core site to act as a buffer zone. As the purchased land will be withdrawn from agricultural production, neighbouring livestock farmers have grown increasingly concerned that such a buffer zone will become a safe haven for predator fauna, especially mesocarnivores such as jackals. Using political ecology as her conceptual framework, Renelle will explore the social meanings attached to jackals by different constituencies and the power relations around knowledge production in jackal-management in the context of the SKA and changing land use in the area. Her study will highlight the human dimensions of human–wildlife conflict and explore prospects for collaborative working relationships between the various stakeholders involved in land and wildlife management.
Renelle obtained her MA in Sociology degree at Stellenbosch University, with a thesis titled “Good Fences Make Good Neighbours: A Qualitative, Interpretive Study Of Human–Baboon And Human–Human Conflict On The Cape Peninsula”. Renelle’s thesis investigates human–baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, and particularly the extent to which human–human conflict underlies human–wildlife conflict.
Keywords: Human–black-backed jackal conflict; Square Kilometre Array (SKA); political ecology; conservation management.