BIOSEC BITESIZE | Defining Wildlife Crime

BIOSEC Bitesize series: Defining Wildlife Crime. Taking a look at the key publications, blogs and podcasts that define our research.

Through our ‘BIOSEC Bitesize’ series, we are looking back on the key publications, blogs and podcasts that define our research, offering you a curated reading, watching and listening list for each topic.

Our final topic is…

Defining Wildlife Crime

The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is increasingly referred to as ‘wildlife crime’. Our research uses a political ecology approach to unpack the meanings associated with wildlife crime, in order to develop a better understanding of how the shift towards thinking about IWT in this way is reshaping conservation in theory and in practice.

Our research examines how different stakeholders (NGOs, donors, international institutions, private companies and governments) define and use the term wildlife crime, and to what effect. Framing IWT as wildlife crime allows different stakeholders to draw attention to the issue, to press for more funding and to make the argument that IWT is part of (transnational) serious organised crime and a security threat.

This matters because such framings can fundamentally change and expand the range of possible policy responses for conservation. Using the term wildlife crime renders tackling the illegal wildlife trade as more compatible with approaches from the law enforcement, military, and private security sectors. This can produce logics in conservation practice that squeeze out and displace other approaches anchored in thinking of it as a problem produced by inequalities between wealthier consumers and poorer suppliers, or as a wider structural issue of development, lack of opportunities, and the dynamics of the global economy.

Our research brings much-needed, fresh insights to this debate, drawing on historical, political and ethical dimensions.

Team members

Rosaleen Duffy | Principal Investigator, Professor of International Politics –

Francis Massé | Post-Doctoral Researcher –

Anh VuPost-Doctoral Researcher –


Policy Brief | ‘Supporting community based approaches to reduce poaching’. Author: Francis Massé

Zine | ‘What happens in conservation if we define the illegal wildlife trade as a global security threat?’

Zine | ‘Wildlife Consumption’

Published papers | World Development: ‘The geopolitical ecology of conservation: The emergence of illegal wildlife trade as national security interest and the re-shaping on US foreign conservation assistance’. Authors: Francis Massé, Jared Margulies

Published papers | Journal of Political Ecology: ‘Conservation and crime convergence? Situating the 2018 London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference‘. Authors: Francis Massé, Hannah Dickinson, Jared Margulies,  Laure Joanny, Teresa Lappe-Osthege, Rosaleen Duffy.

Short film | Defining Wildlife Crime

Podcast | Researching Wildlife Crime: From National Parks to High-Rise Buildings