A small taste of her priggish moralizing can be found on page 230 as she describes another book about a young boy in the region who became a success story for Gorongosa Park supporters Concluding about this boy s successes, she writes, Now I could approach this cynically, and focus on the somewhat suspect overtones of a young African saved by his exposure to an older white man along with the implication that there is something wrong with the rural African world and that one should desire to go beyond it I could claim it to be a return to the Cosmos Club geographers faith in the progressive forces of Western science, and a very successful iteration of Live Aid style snapping, an African saved from poverty But I won t do thatYes and stating, Not to be rude but before an insult makes it o k As does saying just kidding after taking a jab at someone.
After reading Hanes conclusions, I had to honestly consider whether these musings were the author s projections of deep seeded feelings toward Africans Her descriptions stripe the local populations of agency and paint them as primitive dullards She seems ever obsessed with the color of people s skin In one section she describes two citizens of Mozambique and Greg Carr the park s major donor as white men standing over a map dividing up AfricaI wish I could have given this book a better rating, but the intellectual dishonesty of the author makes this a hard thumbs down The fact that the neutral story has so much potential and that there is a lot of interesting information in here gets it above the 1 star mark.
I am a retired U.
S National Park Service ecologist and program manager with a lifelong interest in natural areas management and conservation, as well as a deep passion for Africa.
White Man s Game describes several of the author s personal experiences in southern Africa Unfortunately, although her sources are noted briefly at the end of the book, she does not clearly cite her facts in the text, making it difficult for the reader to do an independent assessment of her claims The book discusses African wild dog conservation the tourist attraction known as shark cage diving misguided efforts to help Africa such as the Live Aid concerts an effort by wealthy environmental do gooders to raise Chinese tigers in South Africa and a plan by a rich eco baron to build an eco paradise in southern Mozambique quotes reflect her words I agree some of these efforts, e.
, shark cage diving, raising tigers, and construction of eco paradises, probably do not help Africa or the African people.
Hanes main story, and where her narrative goes wrong, is a harsh critique of the Gorongosa Restoration Project in Mozambique a long term, collaborative effort to restore the once thriving Gorongosa National Park, which was seriously damaged by decades of war.
I visited Gorongosa National Park in 2015, and have followed the project s progress since my visit Apparently Ms Hanes did not visit the park or speak with park employees for at least eight years before she published her book Had she made a recent visit, she would have seen, as I did, an incredible working model for national park conservation, a public private partnership largely managed by Mozambicans that is simultaneously restoring wildlife populations and ecosystems establishing a world class science and research program developing tourism empowering Mozambican women and providing health care, education, and agricultural support for people living within and adjacent to the park.
Hanes critique of the Gorongosa Restoration Project is misleading and inaccurate it is not a white man s game, it is a collective effort to help people and nature, and it is working.
I loved this book and highly recommend it It is beautifully written and thoroughly researched and reported, and I found it deeply thought provoking At times, uncomfortably so, because it challenges familiar narratives to the Western reader, but the author is an able and eloquent guide, presenting the reader with facts from all viewpoints and leaving it to the reader to come to his or her own conclusions I finished this book feeling thoughtful, wiser, smarter, and hopeful.
I was hoping I would enjoy reading this book as my first, exciting visit to Africa 2 years ago was to Gorongosa National Park The book was interesting and not badly written, but disappointing in that it did not at all match my impressions of the park, people but it wasn t derogatory just an explanation of what was going on Hanes doesn t seem to give that sort of thing much credit mentions hearing about a few locals who thought the spirits were angry, etc I know in the USA we still have altercations between locals and wolves e.
g Yellowstone National Park , and maybe that s just going to happen During my visit to Gorongosa I was made aware that someone went out to help deter elephants from trampling local gardens, because as it was explained to me that s a main food source for locals My point is, I think the Carr team should at least be recognized for their heart felt efforts They have had a lot of obstacles to contend with But instead of giving them credit for contending with them, Hanes seems to suggest well I m not sure That they should have anticipated these obstacles And because they didn t, they aren t making progress fast enough I believe they did anticipate obstacles they were certainly discussed when I visited And even so, the team persevered, and as a result are making tremendous progress despite obstacles Does Hanes have a problem with Eco Tourism that benefits locals It s a lot better I think than trophy hunting to benefit locals.
For the heck of it, I also toured Kruger before leaving southern Africa, and while it was interesting to see the big 5 , I much preferred the beauty, intimacy, and personalities of Gorongosa, where I saw some big animals hippos, lions, elephants , but was also introduced to termite mounds, beautiful lizards and birds, met Tonga Torcida and many others , visited the school and medical center in Vinho Village, saw the community effort to raise shade coffee better than chopping down trees to make charcoal to sell no I could go on, but it just seems like THIS Gorongosa endeavor at rehabilitation IS AN EFFORT TO DO IT RIGHT, despite so many obstacles and it pains me to see a book come out that appears to throw the Gorongosa project in with those projects that are not as thoughtfully planned Hence my low rating.
I have been to Gorongosa National Park 4 times The first time was in 2008, when the park looked a lot like the description Ms Hanes gave My three other trips were in 2014, 2015 and 2017 The positive changes I have seen are remarkable Yes, the number of animals has dramatically increased but the most dramatic changes involve the community programs Let me give you one example Three years ago, the park had partnered with one of the residents of the nearby village of Vinho to create a model farm I saw that farm 6 weeks after it was created Now, there are 5,000 families voluntarily participating in the park s agriculture program They are seeing yields 5 times greater than before.
I found it disturbing that Ms Hanes didn t mention much about what had happened in the last 8 years She proceeded to criticize everything that had happened and offered no real solutions on how to improve It seemed to me that she didn t follow her own advice because she offered only a small slice of the Gorongosa Restoration Project s history She chose to only focus on a few of the stories that may not have turned out as planned Park officials are the first to admit that everything hasn t gone as exactly planned But, how many times does life go exactly as planned By leaving out the last nine years, and all the successes that have happened in the park, Ms Hanes seems to have broken her own rule about telling the entire truth.
A Probing Examination Of Western Conservation Efforts In Africa, Where Our Feel Good Stories Belie A Troubling RealityThe Stunningly Beautiful Gorongosa National Park, Once The Crown Jewel Of Mozambique, Was Nearly Destroyed By Decades Of Civil War It Looked Like A Perfect Place For Western Philanthropy Revive The Park And Tourists Would Return, A Win Win Outcome For The Environment And The Impoverished Villagers Living In The Area So Why Did Some Researchers Find The Local Communities Actually Getting Hungrier, Sicker, And Poorer As The Project Went On And Why Did Efforts To Bring Back Wildlife Become Far Difficult Than Expected In Pursuit Of Answers, Stephanie Hanes Takes Readers On A Vivid Safari Across Southern Africa, From The Shark Filled Waters Off Cape Agulhas To A Reserve Trying To Save Endangered Wild Dogs She Traces The Tangled History Of Western Missionaries, Explorers, And Do Gooders In Africa, From Stanley And Livingstone To Teddy Roosevelt, From Bono And The Live Aid Festivals To Greg Carr, The American Benefactor Of Gorongosa And She Examines The Larger Problems That Arise When Westerners Try To Fix Complex, Messy Situations In The Developing World, Acting With Best Intentions Yet Potentially Overlooking The Wishes Of The People Who Live There Beneath The Uplifting Stories We Tell Ourselves About Helping Africans, She Shows, Often Lies A Dramatic Misunderstanding Of What The Locals Actually Need And WantA Gripping Narrative Of Environmentalists And Insurgents, Poachers And Tycoons, Elephants And Angry Spirits, White Man S Game Profoundly Challenges The Way We Think About Philanthropy And Conservation