Civil wars are frequent in lesser-developed nations, wherein is harbored a disproportionate share of the world's biodiversity. These wars have had serious detrimental effects, direct and indirect, on conservation programs. From 2001 to 2005, we conducted site visits, personal interviews, and document searches bearing upon this problem as exemplified by Nepal's ongoing Maoist insurgency. Cases of insurgents usurping full control of several protected areas have come to light, as has a rapid increase in poaching and illicit wildlife trade nation-wide. Staff and infrastructure of conservation agencies and non-governmental organizations have been attacked. The Nepalese situation invites reassessment of traditional “fortresses-and-fines” conservation strategies as well as more modern “community-based” approaches that require local governmental offices to remain functional. Also called into question is the role of military force in the protection of parks and reserves. In times of civil strife, we conclude, robust conservation may most likely be achieved by nongovernmental organizations that are politically neutral and financially independent.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1