The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is increasingly referred to as ‘wildlife crime’. Our research team is using 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.

Watch our short film on Defining Wildlife Crime

 

Related Publications

The militarization of anti-poaching: undermining long term goals

Duffy, R., F.A.V. St John, B. Buscher and D. Brockington, 2015. ‘The militarization of anti-poaching: undermining long term goals’. Environmental Conservation, 42(4): 345–348.

Read the article

Towards a new understanding of the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting

Duffy, R., F.A.V. St John, B. Buscher and D. Brockington, 2015. ‘Towards a new understanding of the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting’. Conservation Biology, 30(1). Pp. 14-22.

Read the article.

Waging a Waging a War to Save Biodiversity: The Rise of Militarised Conservation

Duffy, R., 2014. ‘Waging a Waging a War to Save Biodiversity: The Rise of Militarised Conservation’. International Affairs, 90 (4). pp. 819-834.

Read the article.

Why we must question the militarisation of conservation

Duffy, R., Massé, F., Smidt, E., Marijnen, E., Büscher, B., Verweijen, J., Ramutsindela, M., Simlaie, T., Joanny, L., Lunstrum, E. (2019) Why we must question the militarisation of conservation. Biological Conservation 05.02.2019.

War, By Conservation

Duffy, R. 2018. ‘War, By Conservation‘. A ‘Knowing Animals’ podcast with Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan 22.10.2018