Conservation is a fundamentally spatial pursuit. Human–elephant conflict (HEC), in particular crop-raiding, is a significant and complex conservation problem wherever elephants and people occupy the same space. Conservationists and wildlife managers build electrified fences as a technical solution to this problem. Fences provide a spatial means of controlling human–elephant interactions by creating a place for elephants and a place for cultivation. They are often planned and designed based on the ecology of the target species.

The continued growth of human populations and of per capita consumption have resulted in unsustainable exploitation of Earth’s biological diversity, exacerbated by climate change, ocean acidification, and other anthropogenic environmental impacts.

Action to conserve biodiversity, particularly through the creation of protected areas (PAs), is inherently political. Political ecology is a field of study that embraces the interactions between the way nature is understood and the politics and impacts of environmental action. This paper explores the political ecology of conservation, particularly the establishment of PAs.