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Zombie leopards, voodoo science and post-truth challenges to conservation

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Peadar Brehony.

Extinction denial may be a relatively new phrase, but it isn’t a new phenomenon, nor one that is necessarily linked to the denial of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity. In this talk, I will discuss some of its causes and consequences in the extraordinary case of the Zanzibar leopard, which was driven to extinction because of its associations with witchcraft, but has refused to die, not least in the imagination of its former persecutors. While the reasons for scientific caution and popular belief are relatively easy to comprehend, the actions of hoaxers and fakers are harder to excuse, especially when their motivations are purely mercenary and their effects so pernicious. How should we respond to lies and fraud in our midst, not only in the context of wider battles over misinformation and disinformation in the contemporary world, but when they directly affect our research and the relationships it is built upon?

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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