The Colonist and the Kiwikiu: How wildlife conservation is shaped by colonialism and the patriarchy

Date: Tuesday, 22 February 2022 19:30

Venue: The B-Bar, Barbican Theatre.

When Prince William and Kate hand-fed baby rhinos at Kaziranga National Park, the world’s attention was drawn to this conservation triumph. The park is home to over 2,400 greater one-horned rhinos, two thirds of the global population, yet in 1905 there were fewer than 100. The protected habitat brings benefits such as flood management and allows bird and mammal populations to thrive, including tigers, elephants and otters. However, beneath this success lie scenes of violence and unrest, along with a troubling colonial past.

Human power structures have shaped the natural world, whether this is British uplands being managed for grouse shooting or coastlines altered to become military ports. Conservation attempts to reverse some of these changes, but unwittingly continues on a colonial path. The poorest members of society often suffer the consequences of conservation, while being excluded from decision making.

Although nature conservation is essential for humanity, it still brings great harms to individual people and animals. In this talk, science communicator and author Rebecca Nesbit will explore contentious issues such as trophy hunting and indigenous land rights, all the time questioning our conservation goals. Some of our deepest held beliefs about wildlife protection may not stand up to scrutiny.

This talk will coincide with the launch of Rebecca’s new book Tickets for the Ark, which tackles complex debates in conservation – what should we save and why? If you would like to get a copy signed, please pre-order one online from your chosen bookseller.

Rebecca Nesbit is author of Tickets for the Ark, which tackles tough choices in wildlife conservation. Using case studies from around the world, the book challenges some of our deeply held views about what the natural world should look like.

Rebecca studied butterfly migration for her PhD, then worked for a start-up company training honeybees to detect explosives. She now works in science communication and her projects have ranged from a citizen science flying ant survey to visiting universities around the world with Nobel Prize Laureates. Her first popular science book Is that  Fish in your Tomato? explores the fact and fiction of GM foods, and she has also published two novels. Links to her books, articles and short stories can be found at

This event is free and all are welcome, although we do ask for a voluntary contribution to help cover speakers' costs.


Castle Street, Plymouth



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