From the depths of the Borneo jungle through the dark web to private ménageries, this paper reflects on the expansion of contemporary wildlife trafficking and maps an early 21st century trade in living organisms, dead animal parts and metempsychic imaginaries. Involving, among many other emerging relational entanglements, life and death issues, big money, commercial routes and their extensive influence over land, people and spirits, as well as deep affective states infused with apocalyptic narratives, blood and bullets, tourism and terrorism, I report here on the curious case of pangolins poaching. Addressing issues pertaining to the characterization of life forms, I detect in today’s so-called ‘multispecies-turn’ a problematic conceptualization of what an animal is – be it alive or dead, should it be poached, protected, consumed, mourn or hold responsible for a new geological epoch. By looking at individuals from the perspective of their individuations, rather than the opposite (i.e. looking at individuation processes from the perspective of an already individuated organism), I offer a positive, operative and alternative concept – individuation complexes – to think otherwise about emerging lives and, therefore, reengage with their intrinsic potentialities.
Photo Paul Hilton