Antelope’s fate shrouded by social, political forces

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The story of South Africa’s oribi mirrors conservation issues for other iconic species

If only it were as simple as finding more grassland for an antelope.

The story of efforts to conserve the endangered oribi in South Africa represent a diaspora of issues as varied as the people who live there. On its surface, like many threatened species, you have conflict between a need for habitat and private landownership.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover a seedy underbelly of political corruption, gambling, struggles over land, and racial tensions. No matter how much success is made through more traditional conservation efforts, says a new study by a University of Georgia researcher, the species will continue to be threatened until the human conflicts can be mitigated or resolved.

“It’s an interesting case study because the oribi is so dependent on habitat that’s on private lands,” said Elizabeth Pienaar, an associate professor at…

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