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Scarecrows and Scapegoats: The Futility and Power of Cleaning a Landscape


Khalil Avi Betz-Heinemann ,

University of Kent, GB
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Joseph Tzanopoulos

University of Kent, GB
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This paper investigates why the culling of corvids in Northern Cyprus continues despite it being recognised by those that do it as ineffective. Participant observation, semi-structured interviews and archival research were conducted with a range of people involved in the management and practice of culling. The analysis shows that the introduction of the ruined landscape narrative to Cyprus during the era of British colonialism established a division between civilized and uncivilized, clean, and dirty behaviours amongst nonhuman animals. This relationship has been carried through into contemporary wildlife management by organisations involved in hunting who seek to maintain a clean hunting landscape through culling. However, it is argued here that this culling is futile and there is a disconnect between the effectiveness of the management of the landscape and what hunters are witnessing during hunting. Nonetheless, it continues because the cleaning of corvids as administratively recorded waste demonstrates the organisations’ and their administrative medium’s power and control over the landscape.

How to Cite: Betz-Heinemann, K.A. and Tzanopoulos, J., 2020. Scarecrows and Scapegoats: The Futility and Power of Cleaning a Landscape. Worldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 3(1), p.9. DOI:
  Published on 23 Dec 2020
 Accepted on 03 Oct 2020            Submitted on 10 May 2019


This paper is part of a special issue on dirty places. The dirtiness focussed on is the behaviour of corvids. The place is Northern Cyprus. Every year approximately 15,000 corvids are killed by members of the TRNC (Northern Cyprus) Hunting Federation, as part of a government-subsidized effort to control their population (Betz-Heinemann et al. 2020). The justification for this culling is that corvids kill wildlife valued by hunters. A global comparative study (Madden et al. 2015) and a local Cypriot study (Hadjisterkotis 2003) demonstrate that corvids do an almost imperceptible amount of preying on game animals and that it is insignificant in terms of affecting the population size of targeted species.

What has been demonstrated is that this culling of corvids in Northern Cyprus disproportionately targets male corvids making it technically less effective (Betz-Heinemann et al. 2020). More importantly, the social adaptability of corvids means that they can radically increase the density of reproduction and population replacement in the face of population loss. Hence, killing part of a population of a specific group of wildlife without understanding their social behaviour can result in increased population size (ibid). In sum, wildlife management policy that does not take a systems perspective, including taking into consideration the social systems of nonhumans, is not just ineffective but actively dysfunctional.

The specific dynamics of this conclusion were not known to research participants involved in the culling of corvids in Northern Cyprus. However, its outcome was recognised. This was reflected in a common refrain amongst them: ‘every year there are more crows no matter how many we kill’. The implication is the recognition that culling is not working. Hence, this paper addresses the following question: If the culling and cleaning of corvids in Northern Cyprus is not working according to plan and there is recognition of this amongst the community of practice doing it, why does it continue as an unchecked policy increasing year on year?

To answer this question, research was conducted with the people and organisations involved in culling including members of the TRNC Hunting Federation and the affiliated Hunting Conservation rangers, as well as members of different local hunting clubs. Simultaneously, the historical ecology and ethnographic context of wildlife management in Cyprus were also researched to identify how current human-faunal practices have emerged.

This paper does not propose that human-corvid relations in Northern Cyprus are homogenous or unchanging, but instead describes and discusses an organisational pattern exemplified by corvid culling. Specifically, this pattern was highlighted by research participants that conducted these practices but bemoaned their futility. A subsidiary objective of this paper then is to inform local debate in Northern Cyprus around wildlife management.

However, the primary aim of identifying this pattern is to challenge the seductive narrative and dysfunctional reality that it is creating, wherever identifiable. This paper draws on the social anthropological literature to describe this pattern – in the form of two key practices – as part of a ‘harvesting and husbandry’ approach to the landscape (Falzon 2008; Hell 2014; Hell in Descola & Pálsson 1996). These two practices are dubbed ‘scarecrows’ and ‘scapegoats’. This paper argues that these practices reflect a pattern that underpins the dominant ‘Northern European’ relationship between ‘Nature and Society’ (Descola & Pálsson 1996). It then traces their origins in Northern Cyprus to British colonialism and analyses the form they take in contemporary Cyprus. Finally, why this pattern of wildlife management persists is discussed, despite its lack of efficacy.


Participant observation (Bernard 2011: 256–290) during three culling seasons (2014–16) enabled data collection on the conduct of the cull. Handwritten notes, photos, and video clips were taken to document the conversations and activities that constituted culling. Participant observation was also conducted at the offices of the TRNC Hunting Federation during daily work activities, including attending hunting club meetings and the processing of corvid heads, and were compared with findings gathered through participant observation across the rest of the year when game animals were hunted, again using documentation of practices and conversations.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with research participants and ‘life histories’ (Angrosino 2007: 33–44) were obtained to respectively follow up on questions that had arisen during participant observation and to contextualize observations. Potential participants were identified through snowball sampling. From these, 37 participants were selected from a variety of locations and a range of socioeconomic statuses and ages using purposive sampling. These included people from across the five administrative regions of Northern Cyprus: farmers, factory workers, pensioners, estate-agents, lawyers, students, care workers, advertising executives, retailers, politicians, and waste collectors, ages 18–74 (average 48); 36 men and 1 woman, reflecting the national composition of the hunting community.

An archival review of the TRNC Hunting Federation’s records was also conducted, as well those of the Interior Ministry and the National Archives to gather quantitative data on the number of corvid heads submitted by hunters in return for subsidies, how many people were specially licensed to perform the cull, as well as the historical and legal context of contemporary practices. Prior informed consent was requested and received from all participants included in this study.


The volume Nature and Society (Descola & Pálsson 1996) is arguably one of the most important contributions to the 20th-century study of the nature/culture dichotomy. Of these contributions, most are rooted in the topic of hunting including chapters by celebrated anthropologists Descola (ibid.: 82), Rival (ibid.: 145), Ingold (ibid.: 25), and Ellen (ibid.: 104). Descola develops on this work in Beyond Nature and Culture (2013) to juxtapose ‘non-Western’ subjects against a European ‘Western’ context. Where the latter is framed by Descola through its nature-culture dualism often summarised as the Cartesian perspective. However, there is one entry in the Nature and Society volume that starts, although not explicitly, to unsettle Descola’s implied dualism between Cartesian dualism and non-dualism. That is the chapter by Hell (in Descola & Pálsson 1996: 205) on recreational hunting in Europe. It implies a problematization of the European subject as being singularly defined by a Cartesian relationship to nature. This problematization, and Descola’s own dualism, are addressed in more contemporary work on pastoral and cynegetic relations in rural and southern Europe by Zuppi (2017), Cruzada (2017), and Falzon (2008).

Falzon, in particular, builds on Hell’s work to articulate a contrast between gathering and harvesting styles of hunting in Europe, where harvesting ‘renders the hunter responsible for the management of the quarry population, and hunting as “gathering”… rejects any idea of planned management of wild fauna’ (Falzon 2008: 20). Where the former indicates Cartesian dualism through an idea of human society conducting ‘husbandry’ of nature, but in the latter nature is not a collective whole ‘landscape’ to be protected from the mores of human society but instead is seen as constituted of diverse subjective agents.

Building on this distinction, Falzon identifies hunting on Mediterranean islands, such as Cyprus, as rooted in this ‘gathering’ style. This is the hunting and trapping of migratory birds as they pass annually in their millions through these island migratory bottlenecks. This is juxtaposed against the ‘harvest and husbandry’ approach to hunting and land management that is ‘central to northern European traditions’ (ibid.: 16). This paper builds on this explicit generalization but observes that with British colonialism a harvesting and husbandry approach to wildlife management also took root in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Therefore, this paper takes the case study of Cyprus to analyse the introduction and development of this approach to wildlife. The utility of doing so, this paper argues, is that this husbandry approach dominates wildlife management globally, where ‘wildlife management’ itself is a particular historical framing of how humans should relate to the faunal inhabitants of a place – migratory or otherwise. Further, this paper argues that this approach appeals to people through a seductive narrative rooted in the idea of needing to control and defend the balance of a place from dirty behaviour.

Following the socio-cultural anthropological tradition and its appeal to grounding theory and its articulation in context (history + ethnography), this theorisation is developed through attention to a particular practice, the culling corvids in Northern Cyprus. The empirical observation of its practice and limitations can then be critically analysed to identify its implications beyond the context it has been explored in.

Reviewing the TRNC National Archives and an online review of archival documents referring to Cyprus, the indications are that a form of husbandry towards wildlife has existed in Cyprus since before the era of British colonialism. For example, during the Ottoman colonisation of Cyprus. However, this was limited to relatively small gardens and enclosures where captured wild animals were kept (Artan 2008: 302; Mariti 1808: 59–60 in Cobham 1908). It suffices to note that in the long durée history of human-wildlife relations before the Ottoman period, Cyprus as a whole island (or its Northern part) was not subject to a landscape-wide husbandry approach to wildlife.

This article identifies that this husbandry approach to managing a landscape, conceived of as a bounded whole, emerges with the systematic introduction of the ‘ruined landscape narrative’ narrative to Cyprus. This was used by British officials in Cyprus to justify British colonialism, building on its long history of use by Northern Europeans to describe the Mediterranean (Grove and Rackham 2003) and by the British Empire throughout the Ottoman colonies it took over including Cyprus (Harris 2012: 3671).

Building on this historical ecology of colonialism (Grove & Rackham 2003; Harris 2007; 2012; Rackham & Moody 1996), this paper also contributes to historical and social anthropological research emerging out of Northern Cyprus. In terms of humans, Bryant (2004) has already demonstrated how people in Cyprus were transformed through the administrative categorization of British rule. This involved the seemingly mundane tools of conducting censuses, categorizing people, and organising them spatially as a population. Whilst these might seem benign administrative activities Bryant demonstrates that they gave rise to the new divisive categories of ‘Turkish Cypriot’ and ‘Greek Cypriot’, as well as the consequent division of the island.1

This geographic division led to the resettling of people across an island divided by borders. The consequent appropriation of property abandoned by former residents on either side of the border has left formal repercussions, including cross-border legal disputes over ownership of land. It has also more broadly shaped peoples’ ways of living in these particular spaces and of belonging in Northern Cyprus. Whilst Bryant and other social anthropologists of Northern Cyprus do touch on the nonhuman living environment concerning these issues, the overwhelming focus beyond the human has been on inert material remnants (Bryant 2014; Navaro-Yashin 2012). This paper extends this work by addressing fauna, not just humans and objects, in relation to colonial and postcolonial administration.

Drawing these threads together, this paper’s main contribution is to historically (‘The Ruined Landscape under British Colonialism’) and ethnographically (‘The Ruined Landscape under the TRNC’) situate a wildlife management question, in doing so identifying the continuity of a narrative of ruination and the associated managerial and administrative processes (e.g., culling and mapping). This paper then explores these processes by drawing on Chamayou’s analogies of power (cynegetic and pastoral power) (2012) to answer the original question of why a practice that does not work according to plan persists.

The Ruined Landscape under British Colonialism

When Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley and colonial officers of the British Empire disembarked at the port of Limassol in 1878, Cyprus came under their ‘protection’ (Hook 2015). It had been part of the Ottoman Empire for over three centuries. Upon their arrival and throughout their stay, officers of the Empire pushed the narrative that the Cypriot landscape was highly degraded. Therefore, a justification for colonial rule and its policies regarding the land and its ownership was the saving of the landscape and its proper wildlife from its ‘uncivilized’ local inhabitants. This formed the ‘ruined landscape narrative’, a defining feature of British rule in the Mediterranean and further afield (Grove & Rackham 2003).

Colonial officers employed the idea that it was Cypriots and their previous Ottoman rulers that were to blame through neglecting to properly manage the land (Harris 2012: 3763–64). The ruined landscape narrative denotes the Ottomans as ‘bad rulers’ and Cypriots as ‘lazy ignorant natives’. When examples of Cypriots arose that did not resemble this, such as perceived resistance, they were conversely described as active destroyers of the landscape (Harris 2007). Consequently:

‘Forward-thinking British foresters taught the residents to adopt what they viewed to be worthwhile, productive… lifestyles… [emphasis added]. They also taught the people to respect and appreciate nature’ (2012: 3670–75).

Although autochthonous habitats were perceived as ‘degraded’ and ‘ruined’, Rackham demonstrates otherwise. What have been considered ‘wild’ and ‘natural’ habitats on Mediterranean islands are a result of an extensive relationship between humans, animals, and the land. They were far from ruined, at least until the British Empire arrived (Grove & Rackham 2003; Rackham & Moody 1996). A pertinent example in Cyprus was the demonization of goats and goat-herding by British colonial scientists who wrote vast scientific volumes on how goats destroyed the landscape (e.g., Unwin 1928). Rackham points to the contrary, that the unique grazing styles of localized breeds of goat are involved in the unique flora of Mediterranean islands (2003: 239–269).

Despite Cypriots being portrayed as unproductive and ruinous when not too lazy to engage with the land, British officers could not simply outright ban the killing of local fauna and flora. First, they wished to hunt and shoot game animals themselves, where ‘hunt’ and ‘game’ are terms that refer to specific traditions entwined with Empire. Second, Cypriot inhabitants, unlike English peasants, had not yet gotten used to being legally dis-embedded from using local fauna and flora.2 Nonetheless, over the coming decades, British colonial policy would attempt to transform the native population into peasants, with disastrous and famine-inducing consequences (Harris 2007: 281; Kadıoğlu 2010: 105).

In the meantime, British colonial officer’s job was to start civilizing and remaking Cypriot locals in their image, as well as the landscape. However, British colonial policies were not simply imposed by British elites on Cypriots. Instead, Cypriot elites worked in tandem with British elites (Harris 2007: 22, 57). This was not an instantaneous or uncontested event amongst colonizers along with local elites. As Harris explores in detail, it was a complex process dominated by different British officers making sense from their perspectives, making sense of where they were, what was rightfully theirs, and how they should go about rebuilding their English idyll in Cyprus in relation to who they were (2007: 113–174).

Administration of the land emerged out of this as a process of senior officers, such as the Governor, hunting all year round. At the same time instructing and delegating their subordinates to shape the Cypriot ‘countryside’ around their ideal of it being proper, pristine, peaceful, and free of unfamiliar local people (Varnava 2005). This process was itself embedded in the sitting British government needing to demonstrate, in the face of political criticism back in Britain, the idyllic nature of Cyprus and its worthiness of colonial attention. This was particularly pertinent in light of the perception, by political opposition back in Britain, that the British Prime Minister had shouldered the burden of saving the Ottoman Empire from collapse, questioning whether the acquisition of Cyprus was worth it. As one British newspaper commentator put it, when considering the prospect of the newly acquired Cyprus, ‘The Ideal and the Real…Cyprus, white as driven snow?’ Or ‘Cyprus, black as any crow?’ (Taylor 1879).

Out of this, hunting as a hobby for the Cypriot colonial subject was encouraged, instead of gathering or foraging for fauna and flora. Attempting to do this required converting ‘gathering with a gun’ and other tools, Cypriots and the Cypriot landscape into a people and a place for ‘proper’ hunting. This does not mean hunting as an elite leisure activity was introduced by the British. Instead, what was introduced was hunting integrated into the British colonial administrative apparatus across an entire landscape, replete with the colonial-class relationship of civilizer civilizing uncivilized humans and nonhumans. A key part of this was pushing uncivilized people off of their land,3 whilst creating a civilized urban scribal class seeking weekend leisure pursuits akin to their superiors. This whole process was part of the colonial process of converting relatively abundant commons into accumulated private property, associated classes of people, and resource scarcity (Sant Cassia 1993).

In this vein, big game species such as Moufflon (Muflon/Ovis orientalis orientalis) were only available to hunt with the special permission of the Governor. In short, off-limits to most Cypriots but not to British colonial officers. Smaller game animals, such as hare and partridge were accessible to Cypriots but enclosed via the necessary paperwork, time, equipment, and monies needed to be paid to hunt them. The criminalisation of the trapping of birds and hare would come later as part of the turn to modernity and the further administrative institutionalisation of hunting as a leisure pursuit.

During British rule, a range of animals that were neither game nor perceived to be purely wild or purely domesticated were perceived to impinge and were promoted to be killed. This was a role for gamekeepers back in Britain, now given to local Cypriots. Originally this included a whole host of wildlife; however, in 21st-century Northern Cyprus this had been narrowed down to largely focus on corvids. These are hooded crows (Garga/Corvux cornix) and Eurasian magpies (Saksağan/Pica pica) as well as other corvid by-catch.

In sum, a critical part of the process of civilizing was the colonial administration of nature and the land. A consequence of this was the controlling of harmful nonhumans, so that game animals might productively thrive under the Empire’s protection and subsequently be engaged with in a civilized fashion. In other words, the reproduction of power over the land was incumbent upon a civilized Empire whose administrative enclosure was justified by claims to taking proper care of the land through a husbandry approach. A key demonstration of this husbandry being the cleaning of the dirty behaviour of uncivilized Cypriot people, goats, and corvids.

The Ruined Landscape under the TRNC

In 1960 the Republic of Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire. Alongside the relevant government and non-government organisations that emerged with this shift, activities that had been transformed into leisure pursuits under British colonialism – such as hunting and shooting – also received their own associations and organisations. Based on the aforementioned administrative divisions of people into Turks and Greeks, Cypriots formed their own ethnic equivalents of these associations. Established in 1971 as part of this transformation, the TRNC Hunting Federation4 (KKTC Avcılık Federasyon) claimed responsibility and authority for representing the interests of Turkish Cypriot hunters. It was founded by a Turkish Cypriot trained in the administrative distribution of electricity as a centralised, colonial and public service, who applied this knowledge and style of planning to the management of hunting. In 2011 the Central Hunting Commission (Merkez Av Komisyonu) was formed to oversee hunting, a hybrid between the TRNC state’s Interior Ministry and the TRNC Hunting Federation, further integrating the two organisations into each other. During the fieldwork for this paper, the Under-Secretary to the Interior that led this government committee had previously been a president of the TRNC Hunting Federation, further reflecting this integration.

When staff and elected representatives of the TRNC Hunting Federation were first asked how hunting works and what they as an organisation do, two items were presented and the following explanation given: ‘everything you need to know is here’. The first was a couple of sheets of A4 paper stapled together and titled ‘Regulatory and Must-do Activities’. It was not an annual calendar, but a to-do-list for the Federation agreed at monthly membership meetings. The second was a pocket-sized blue book, inside which were all the laws and their sub-sections relating to hunting. These were rooted in British colonial law, translated, and adapted as part of TRNC law and consequent changes lobbied for by the TRNC Hunting Federation.

Hunters in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Islands are often dismissed as ‘hirsute men’ (Falzon 2008: 20) reflecting an idea that hunters have no sense of following ‘law and order’. However, despite an initial dismissal of these documents the importance of them and of ‘taking what research participants said seriously’ was quickly realized (Graeber 2015: 27–28). Close attention was paid to these artefacts of drab paperwork and their critical role in the reproduction of hunting. In doing so, it was observed that the activities of the TRNC Hunting Federation were inescapably filtered through the pages of these documents. One explicit manifestation of this process was the reproduction of a seasonal hunting landscape and the projection of it onto Northern Cyprus. Like the administrative processes used during British colonialism, these captured, cleaned, and reproduced Northern Cyprus as a defined landscape under the control of the TRNC Hunting Federation and Interior Ministry. In doing so, these organisations were justified as authorities – as protectors – over the resources the land held, in this case access to the mortality, sporting behaviour, and bodies of wildlife. One key example of a practice that conducted this authority-building work was the production, distribution, display, and unique use of hunting maps.

These hunting maps were a geographical representation of Northern Cyprus as a hunting landscape. Until the early 2000s they had taken the form of annual legal amendments textually listing closed areas. With the introduction of cheap and easy visual mapping, these lists were transformed. Many small areas of closure could be communicated on one page as a single graspable representation, a map. This allowed staff, representatives, and members of the TRNC Hunting Federation, as well as hunters in general, to relate to hunting as cartographic territory giving the land a sense of its ideal being self-contained, inviolate, and intact. One that could be manoeuvred around and managed in the face of an increasingly busy and enclosed country with multiple different intersecting administrations5 and dirty behaviours.

Three separate years of these maps being produced was observed. The activities around their production occupied an extensive amount of proactive and exuberant attention from people involved in the Hunting Federation. Drawn up for each hunting season, they broke Northern Cyprus into 56 zones, each of which was coloured differently as to whether they were permanently off-limits or open or closed to hunting for that season.

While Northern Cyprus is not large, the actual physical representations of these maps printed out on A3 paper at a scale of 1:300,000 left hunters very hazy about exactly where the borders were, or why certain areas had been picked over others to be open or closed. It was also witnessed that birds-eye-view maps were not always familiar or comfortable tools of navigation for a portion of research participants. Instead, these impractical maps – not to mention the opacity of their having an ecological basis – were a focus around which to converse and telephone other hunters or Hunting Federation staff and talk about whether this bit of land was legal this season or not. This in itself shaped further activities on the to-do-list of the Hunting Federation. For example, during fieldwork staff expended a considerable amount of time and resources placing ‘No Hunting’ signposts around access points to slivers of land closed to hunting. In some cases, they made the bureaucratic red lines material in the form of flimsy red and white tape. Flapping and tearing in the wind, hung along certain junctures, and strung around certain areas. This ethereal tape sometimes hundreds of metres in length performing the work the maps were meant to have done.

But primarily these maps were used as shared visual representations, pinned up in hunting clubs and cafés across the country, on the walls and screens of digital and analogue communications. Along with the ‘No Hunting’ signs they were reminiscent of the twin national flags found hanging in or atop every building. With every hunting season, the national newspapers regularly printed these maps as full spreads. Impossible to use for navigation, they were in practice publicly embossed projections of the legitimacy of the Hunting Federation over the landscape and its wildlife. They echoed the ornate yet impractical globes that decorate powerful rooms.

These maps were not unilateral demonstrations of power though. Just as trophy hunters mount heads and antlers on their walls not simply as substitutive symbols for something else (Marvin in Kowalsky 2010: 105–116), these maps were ongoing interactive representations around which hunting discourse, and by extension, the idea of the hunting landscape came alive. In other words, the medium of administration was not simply a conduit for a message; ‘the medium was the message’ (Carrier 2008). The actual fact of reproducing the medium, and all the labour and conversations involved, constituted the actual production of the hunting landscape. The maps like fair-trade packaging (ibid.), the national flags painted on the mountains of Northern Cyprus, or the statues of national leaders in town squares, generated an index that purported to be a conduit communicating the intactness of the land.

Hunting maps were only one practice that captured, cleaned, and reproduced Northern Cyprus as a clean and protected landscape. Other activities included: the annual breeding and releasing of partridges (Alectoris chukar), which, in theory, would increase the number of hunting encounters; the placing of water barrels across the landscape from which animals could, in theory, drink where springs had dried up during the hot summer months; the placing of bird boxes to serve, in theory, hoopoe (Upupa epops) that prey on caterpillars that prey on hunting habitat; the policing of the hunting space, in theory, to penalise illegal hunting; the holding of hunting and hunter festivals, tournaments, and feasts to socialise the hunting space and, in theory, build a freely associating community; the printing of hunting magazines, documentary series, TV appearances, social media outputs and regular newspaper spreads to, in theory, exchange ideas and inform the community.

Like the maps being ‘in theory’ a practical navigational guide to the landscape, all these activities were in practice productive of a means of engaging with an audience; the people conducting it and managing it, the membership of the TRNC Hunting Federation, the public, and critical voices. At the same time, having little connection with the aims they claimed to be achieving. Whether it was birdboxes with holes the wrong size to accommodate hoopoe, partridges bred for release in a way that made them behaviourally incapable of surviving outside their cages, or the nullifying complexity of penalising illegal hunting.6 And of key importance, the inefficiency but year on year increased investment of resources and hyperbole in culling corvids.

In sum, the production of an administrative medium – including maps, the annual tally of corvids killed, the annual tally of resources spent on breeding birds, and the continual public documentation of practices – was equated with the securing of a clean and inviolate landscape that should consequently bear fruits in the form of hunting encounters. However, as the most dominant discourse encountered amongst hunters reflects: ‘every year there are fewer animals to hunt, every year there are more corvids’. Consequently, the lack of the hunting landscape’s productivity, in terms of hunting encounters, was scapegoated on the dirty behaviour of corvids who are supposedly killing game birds and are not socially submissive. Consequently, more resources were expended on scaring away these crows, alongside the aforementioned administrative procedures that continue to dress up the hunting landscape as secure.


This study highlights that even when a practice – in this case, hunting – requires intimate, direct, and indexical attention to the land and fauna to be successful, this does not mean its management reflects this knowledge. Arguably, it is the very knowledge that comes from being familiar with the land, that leads hunters to the observation that there is something ecologically problematic occurring. However, as the medium of management – that exists to purportedly address such concerns – is rooted in a narrative based on creating and combatting ruinous scapegoats, it is perhaps unsurprising that this medium continues to reproduce itself to maintain its users own security and power over the landscape.

This paper argues that this management of a landscape, as articulated by Hell and Falzon as the harvesting and husbandry approach to securing a landscape (Falzon 2008; Hell in Descola & Pálsson 1996) reflects Chamayou’s work on pastoral and cynegetic (hunting) power. In philosopher Chamayou’s thesis on Manhunts (2012) he develops a theoretical analogy for understanding this form of power by building on Foucault’s mention of pastoral (shepherding) power and its combination with cynegetic power. Chamayou uses the analogy of the shepherd, sheep, and wolf to explain pastoral power and its historical entanglement with cynegetic power. An analogy materially rooted in the human-faunal relations of pastoral and imperial hunting histories. For Chamayou pastoral power presents itself as a shepherd to its subjects, where in return for security from violation by ‘outsiders or wolves’, autonomy is given up to a managerial and administrative authority.

Chamayou develops this analogy further by rooting it in the history of imperialism and its use of cynegetic power as entangled with pastoral power. He highlights that the shepherd in the form of pastoral power and the wolf in the form of imperial cynegetic power have become entangled in such a way that security is not just an issue of protecting the boundaries of a population from violation. It is also about the need for the shepherd to take on the cynegetic qualities of the wolf to hunt down and clean dirty behaviours that threaten to violate a flock from within.

Developing the concept of pastoral and cynegetic power further, Keck in his work on bird farming and ways of securing against bird flus (2020), highlights the different manifestations of this entanglement between the two powers in three different cases. None of these three examples expresses the same entanglement as described in this paper. However, culling and the administrative production of a clean landscape in Northern Cyprus do resonate with his identification of the pastoral technique of ‘sacrifice’ (ibid.: 69–107) and the cynegetic technique of ‘simulation’ (ibid.: 108–138) respectively. Therefore: (i) building on Chamayou’s articulation of these powers and Keck’s articulation of these techniques, (ii) in a way that reflects the particular circumstances encountered in this case study, and then to also (iii) address an aspect covered in neither Chamayou nor Keck’s work, this paper introduces its own analogy – the tree of life and the scarecrows protecting it from scapegoats.

If we conceive of the scapegoating of corvids and the administratively well-dressed scarecrows of those managing the hunting landscape as being expressions of pastoral and cynegetic techniques, the tree of life being protected is a marginal concern in practice. Hence why this paper has referred to the concept of husbandry (as the planned management of a landscape) to describe what was observed and participated in during fieldwork; the marginalisation of the different subjectivities of the tree of life and hence an administrative ignoring of it. Including (i) the social life of corvids that enable them to flourish in the face of culling, (ii) the dependent behaviour of partridges bred-for-release curtailing the autonomy necessary for them to become huntable animals, and (iii) the ecological shifts occurring in Cyprus as part of the Anthropocene. In sum, the tree of life is at the periphery. At the centre is the management involved in creating a simulated plan of what the landscape should look like and its attempts to drop decontextualized resources in (behaviourally dependent partridges) and out (dirty corvids) of the simulation (maps).


This paper has drawn attention to the management of the Cypriot landscape and its inhabitants under British colonial administration and later under various organisations part of the TRNC state. Under British colonialism, this involved civilizing and cleaning up Cypriots’ dirty behaviours, both human and nonhuman. This approach to a place premised on designating it as ruined due to it exhibiting dirty social behaviour via its human or nonhuman inhabitants. In doing so, justifying the need to control and clean it. This pattern then reflected in the contemporary management of the hunting landscape in Northern Cyprus, where the administrative categorising of dirty behaviour has many useful purposes in maintaining and reproducing an authority over it.

To paraphrase Bryant, this paper has demonstrated that contemporary management of the landscape has ‘emerged through Cypriots’ encounters with modernity under British colonialism, and through a consequent re-imagining of the [faunal] body politic in a new world in which [“Cypriot” land-use has been marginalised and “Cypriot” fauna] transformed into [protected fauna or harmful fauna to be cleaned]’ (2004: 2).

I conclude that the production of waste out of dirty behaviour, manifested as the freezer chests that overflow with the heads of culled corvids soon to be incinerated, is not an unfortunate by-product of a husbandry approach to wildlife management. Nor is its self-described aim to produce a clean protected landscape meaningful in terms of efficacy. Instead, the production of this waste is a key component of maintaining the simulation of a productive landscape. Furthermore, the audience requires the authority conducting the waste production to continue in order to maintain belief in the simulation (See Figure 1).7

Figure 1 

Photographic re-enactment by Joe Spence and author of ‘They Left. A worker contemplating a rubber duck’ by Geliy Korzhev.

Taking the analogy of the tree of life, cleaning it to make it conform to a simulation, does not result in success but instead requires constant investment in maintaining this simulation and identifying and cleaning scapegoats that threaten it. To the degree that the well-dressed scarecrow of the managed-administrative-medium becomes the purpose in itself. This is both futile in terms of addressing the fruitfulness of the tree of life and harmful in its blindness to the feedback created by imposing a waste-based-simulation on the various subjectivities that constitute the tree of life.


1In addition to the international consensus presenting it as a whole occupied by an ‘unrecognised’ intrusion in the North. 

2During the first part of British colonial rule, Cyprus was not legally under British sovereignty, but merely on loan from the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, passing extensive new laws was not yet fully possible. 

3Sant Cassia details seven interconnected transitions involved in this process (1993). 

4It was originally the Hunting and Shooting Federation before it first gained the prefix of the TRNC in 1983 and then later lost the ‘Shooting’ part of the title when the Federation divided into two organisations, one representing hunting and the other competitive clay pigeon shooting. 

5In addition to the RoC and the TRNC there are also the British Protected Areas (BPAs), the UN buffer zone, many Turkish military bases, UN supplied Greek enclaves within the TRNC, POPS (privately owned public space) and gated communities, in particular massive resort and casino complexes in Northern Cyprus that Turkish Cypriots are not allowed to gamble in. Across these, different categories of people can move between some, but not all. This includes huge populations of each of the following: diasporas, tourists (weather, tax and gambling), students, refugees, labourers, European and Russian expat enclaves, sex workers, various generations of Turkish or Greek ‘settler’, military and migratory birds, as well as resident fauna, flora and fungi, or in the case of corvids, unwanted nonhumans. 

6In the few years where political will and huge resources enabled a temporary spike in arrests to do with suspected illegal hunting, convictions were low, and the only evidence of its effect on the security of wildlife resources were research participants noting the contrary. 

7As indicated earlier this was not a totalizing simulation but a dominant pattern. I encountered numerous people involved that questioned it. Figure 1 represents the studies participants that were encountered, primarily working people, who engaged critically with this simulation. 


This paper acknowledges the study participants for their time, energy, and stories; the staff of the TRNC Hunting Federation for making this research possible; the fauna, flora, fungi, fish, and fruits of Cyprus that have nourished and adopted its lead author and made this island a home; the crows that have guided it and the wondrous beauty of all the birds that live and visit Cyprus every year; the rich political and historical ecologies in the region that have enlivened it; members of the Hunting Studies Network for their conversations; Dr David Henig for his supervision.

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Prior informed consent was requested and received from all participants included in this study. This study was funded by Economics and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) UK.


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