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The Australian National University

Wild Science: Conservation Biology in South Africa’s National Parks, 1900–2000

Date and time

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 16:15 - 17:30


McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU

A School of History Seminar presented in conjunction with the Fenner School of Environment & Society (CMBE)
Speaker: Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa

After a broad overview of the changing directions in conservation science in South Africa’s national parks during the twentieth century, I will focus on a case study that combines many elements of that history and demonstrates its complexity. In the 1970s the question of controlling what were considered to be ‘locally over abundant’ species in protected areas sparked international deliberation among scientists and wildlife managers. This debate continues to resonate and illuminates clearly how ideas about nature are enmeshed in societal values rather than being based on science alone.


Jane Carruthers taught in the Department of History at the University of South Africa from 1980 until her retirement as Research Professor in December 2012. Internationally well known as an environmental historian, Jane has written a number of books and around 30 book chapters, as well as authoring more than fifty articles in scholarly journals. Her doctoral thesis, The Kruger National Park: A Social and Political History (1995), has become a standard reference work. Jane’s research interests are wide and she engages with the history of biology and national parks, colonial art, and heritage and cartography in southern Africa and Australia.

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