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The Human Ecology of World Systems in East Africa: The Impact of the Ivory Trade

Abstract

The impact on human ecology of the ivory trade entailed direct and indirect effects. First, the reduction or extermination of elephant populations had direct effects on the vegetation patterns over large areas. Second, the economic activities connected with hunting, transport, and trading affected regional systems of exchange and thereby, indirectly through the political economy, settlements, patterns of resource utilization, population parameters, and specialization of production. Ethnohistorical information from the 1800s suggests how coastal goods interacted with regional systems of exchange and environmental exploitation. Although such information cannot be directly projected onto the more distant past, it can be used to establish some possible pathways through which the hunting of elephants and transportation and trade of ivory could have affected the ecology of human resource use.

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Håkansson, N.T. The Human Ecology of World Systems in East Africa: The Impact of the Ivory Trade. Hum Ecol 32, 561–591 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-004-6097-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-004-6097-7

  • East Africa
  • ivory
  • pastoralism
  • land use
  • trade
  • history