Dore, Ashleigh, Annette Hübschle and Mike Batley (2022) Towards Environmental Restorative Justice in South Africa: How to Understand and Address Wildlife Offences. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Restorative Justice, B. Pali, M. Forsyth, F. Tepper (eds.). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
South Africa is home to a rich diversity of endemic and endangered species of fauna and flora, many of which are subject to wildlife offences. Traditional law enforcement and criminal justice steps have been taken to disrupt wildlife crimes, but they are reactive in nature and thus fail to address the root causes that lead to the commission of wildlife offences. In this chapter, the authors consider whether restorative justice might offer an appropriate approach for meting out justice against people and entities who commit wildlife offences. Taking into account historical and structural drivers that might lead to the commission of wildlife offences, this chapter begins with a short historical and current context of South Africa’s troubled conservation history and measures that have been taken to implement socially just conservation programming and land reform. The authors then unpack wildlife offences and responses thereto before looking into structural and individual drivers of such offences. The authors identified that victims of wildlife offences can be divided into three board categories of people, wildlife and society as a whole. Using Berg and Shearing’s analytical lens of harm landscapes (harmscapes), it is argued that wildlife offences in South Africa fall into the category of contemporary harmscapes characterised by both radical uncertainty and unpredictability. Dealing with wildlife offences thus requires a departure from traditional crime and justice models. The authors recommend that a restorative justice model should be implemented which would offer a more holistic, inclusive, harm- and people centred approach to justice.