Behaviour Change for Nature: A Behavioural Science Toolkit for Practitioners
A great summary of behavioural research findings for public policy and how to apply it to biodiversity conservation interventions aimed at influencing behaviour.
Rare and The Behavioural Insights Team. (2019). Behavior Change For Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners. Arlington, VA: Rare.
Categories: Useful Links

The Past, Present, and Future of Using Social Marketing to Conserve Biodiversity (Open Access)
Since the establishment of social marketing as a discipline, it was clear that environmental sustainability would be part of its scope (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971). Yet, whereas the academic scope of the field was broadly defined, the origins of social marketing practice, which were heavily linked to the promotion of family planning, meant that the development of this practice-led field has been historically focused on public health. Since the beginning of the century, there have been important developments at the intersection of social marketing and environmental sustainability, particularly considering issues such as waste management, energy efficiency, or water conservation. One area that has had very limited attention in the social marketing literature has been biodiversity conservation, defined as the management of diversity of life on Earth with the aim of protecting species, ecosystems, and their interactions from excessive rates of extinction (Hunter & Gibbs, 2007). While this has often been constructed to be a topic that relates to wildlife as opposed to people, it is clear that all key threats to biodiversity are a result of human behavior and as such successful conservation strategies have to also be able to influence human decision-making (Schultz, 2011). It is thus unsurprising that conservationists are increasingly interested in social marketing (Veríssimo, 2013), and this issue of Social Marketing Quarterly aims to bring together these two fields to cross pollinate ideas and promote social marketing research in biodiversity conservation.
Diogo Veríssimo. 2019. The Past, Present, and Future of Using Social Marketing to Conserve Biodiversity. Social Marketing Quarterly, Vol 25(1):3-8.
Published: Apr 2019 | Categories: Research Articles

Identifying global centers of unsustainable commercial harvesting of species
Overexploitation is one of the main threats to biodiversity, but the intensity of this threat varies geographically. We identified global concentrations, on land and at sea, of 4543 species threatened by unsustainable commercial harvesting. Regions under high-intensity threat (based on accessibility on land and on fishing catch at sea) cover 4.3% of the land and 6.1% of the seas and contain 82% of all species threatened by unsustainable harvesting and >80% of the ranges of Critically Endangered species threatened by unsustainable harvesting. Currently, only 16% of these regions are covered by protected areas on land and just 6% at sea. Urgent actions are needed in these centers of unsustainable harvesting to ensure that use of species is sustainable and to prevent further species’ extinctions.
Di Minin, et. al. 2019. Identifying global centers of unsustainable commercial harvesting of species. Science Advances Vol. 5, no. 4.
Published: Apr 2019 | Categories: Research Articles

Characterising trafficking and trade of pangolins in the Gulf of Guinea (Open Access)
Humans and pangolins have a long and intertwined history in Africa and Asia, with the species having been used for subsistence, livelihood, medicinal, and cultural purposes. Populations of Asian pangolins have severely declined, and intercontinental trafficking of African pangolin scales to Asia has emerged in the last decade. Coastal countries in the Gulf of Guinea have been highlighted as hotspots of illegal pangolin trade, and in 2017, international commercial trade in pangolins was banned. We characterise the trade and international trafficking of African pangolins in the coastal countries around the Gulf of Guinea using data across three tiers. First, we investigated which countries were most heavily involved in international trafficking using seizure data. Second, we investigated where domestic seizures of pangolins took place, and whether they were seized with other species. Finally, we tracked the open sale of pangolins across 20-years at the main wild meat market in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to investigate patterns of pangolin sales in a capital city. We found a total of 55893 kg of pangolin scales in 33 seizures between 2012 and 2018, with Cameroon and Nigeria being the most common export countries for international trafficking of pangolin scales. Cameroon had the largest number of domestic seizures (45); we also observed a shift from seizures of meat to scales from 2013 onwards. At the Malabo market a total of 11207 Phataginus pangolins and 366 Smutsia pangolins were sold between 1997 and 2017, and the number and price of pangolins increased over time for both genera and corresponded to a shift in the import of pangolins from Cameroon. Together, these results highlight the scale of trade and trafficking in pangolins within and from this region.
Ingram, et. al. 2019. Characterising trafficking and trade of pangolins in the Gulf of Guinea. Global Ecology and Conservation. Volume 17.
Published: Mar 2019 | Categories: Research Articles

Evaluating methods for detecting and monitoring pangolin (Pholidata: Manidae) populations (Open Access)
The behaviours, ecologies and morphologies of pangolins make them challenging to survey and monitor, and non-targeted wildlife surveys have not produced robust status assessments, especially where population densities are low because of overexploitation. To inform the development of feasible survey and monitoring techniques for pangolins, we conducted a systematic review of all traceable efforts used to survey and monitor pangolins to date: 87 articles were included in the review. Pitfalls of current approaches are discussed and recommendations made on suitable methods. Recommendations include the use of mark-recapture for burrow-dwelling species, community interviews, sign-based surveys in arid and open habitats, detection dog teams, and targeted camera-trapping. Occupancy sampling using camera-traps could be used to monitor some pangolin populations, particularly ground-dwelling species, but the rarity of all species makes it uncertain whether this would provide enough data for monitoring; combinations of methods used within an occupancy sampling framework are likely to be the most effective. There will be many circumstances where direct monitoring of a population at a site, to a level that will generate precise data, is not financially viable nor the best use of conservation resources. In many sites, particularly in Asia, pangolins are too rare as a result of overexploitation, and/or occur in inaccessible areas where significant resources will be needed to implement a targeted monitoring programme. Under such circumstances, the use of proxy variables, including status of other hunting-sensitive species that are easier to record, in combination with enforcement or patrol data and/or community interviews, is likely to be the most cost-effective method for assessing the impact of conservation interventions on pangolin status. The publication of incidental observations and survey ‘by-catch’ would significantly improve understanding of pangolin status and ecology, and therefore how best to identify, conserve and monitor priority populations.
Willcox, et. al. 2019. Evaluating methods for detecting and monitoring pangolin (Pholidata: Manidae) populations. Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 17.
Published: Feb 2019 | Categories: Research Articles

Darknet Usage in the Illegal Wildlife Trade
The darknet is a network of websites that can be accessed only via special software that hides the details of the user’s connection, and also allows websites to be hosted without revealing their location or operator. Today, large-scale darknet marketplaces exist for illegal drugs, firearms, hacking tools, stolen identity documents, and a wide variety of other illicit goods. The darknet has not, to date, proven to be a particularly attractive platform for the buying and selling of illegal wildlife products. Despite this, the darknet provides a 'marketplace of last resort' that becomes increasingly attractive over other, more accessible, online services as law enforcement and platform operators enforce policies against trading in illegal wildlife products. This makes the ongoing study of darknet markets an important avenue for research as other policies against online illegal wildlife trading emerge.
Wright J. 2019. Darknet Usage in the Illegal Wildlife Trade. Tools and Guidance, Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, University of Oxford. DOI: 10.31235/
Published: Feb 2019 | Categories: Research Brief

Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan
Historically the sale of illegal wildlife occurred in traditional markets but since the growth of the internet, there is compelling evidence that wildlife traffickers are going online to reach a vast virtual marketplace, making wildlife crime a form of cyber-enabled crime. This Action Plan calls for actors from government, inter-governmental organisations, enforcement agencies, private companies, non-governmental organisations and academics to map out our collective goals, outline the steps which must be taken to achieve these, and provide a reporting mechanism for adaptive management of the plan.
International Fund for Animal Welfare, Interpol, WWF, TRAFFIC, Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (2018). Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan: A Call to Action for the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade. London, UK.
Published: Jan 2019 | Categories: Reports
Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan

How to curb China's illegal wildlife trade, from tiger bones to totoaba bladders
Michael ’t Sas-Rolfes, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford who toured tiger farms at the invitation of the Chinese government in 2007, was not surprised. “The only part of this that was completely unexpected for me was the timing,” he says. “The Chinese focus has always been more on conserving a species as a resource, not on the western focus of conserving a species in its habitat.” Even as western countries have pushed for blanket bans on certain wildlife products, he continues, demand for those products in certain quarters of Asia has not fallen. Instead, illegal trade and the profits to be made from it have increased. “I’m hoping that China’s move may serve as a bit of a wakeup call that the ‘just say no’ approach doesn’t work,” Sas-Rolfes says. “The conversation on drugs has evolved into something more sophisticated – smoking pot is not the same as shooting up with heroin. And we need to apply the same nuanced, evidence-based thinking to wildlife trade,” he adds.
via The Independent
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

‘Evidence failure’ blights fight against illegal wildlife trade
With consumption driving the illegal trade, efforts to reduce demand clearly have a big role to play in saving the rhinos. But when researchers assessed nine of these interventions last year they found that only one — by TRAFFIC — had been adequately designed. This is just one example of an ‘evidence failure’ that researchers say is thwarting efforts to stop the illegal trade in wild animals and plants, leading to inadequate, unethical and counterproductive policies and other interventions.
via Under the Banyan
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

Cocaine of the sea, ‘epic failure’ and how following the money can limit illegal wildlife trade
It has been called "cocaine of the sea" — the dried swim bladder of the totoaba fish, which when smuggled from Mexico to China sells for US$40,000 to $60,000 per kilogram thanks to its supposed medicinal qualities. While the fish is critically endangered as a result, the situation of another animal that gets caught in totoaba nets is even more dire. The illicit trade has driven the world’s smallest marine mammal — a kind of porpoise called a vaquita — to almost certain extinction.
via Earth Journalism Network
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

Illegal wildlife trade’s ‘dirty money’ targeted by big banks
A broad alliance of 30 global banks and financial institutions have pledged to stop wildlife trafficking by pressuring the pocketbooks of criminal syndicates. Tracking the flow of “dirty money” and tackling corruption emerged as the missing elements in reducing the soaring illegal wildlife trade at a major conference last week in London. A briefing note published this year by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade points to how combating efforts could be improved. Specifically, it notes that fish, timber and plants are all trafficked in much greater volumes than higher-profile species such as elephants or rhinos. It warns of an “over-emphasis on militarised and enforcement-first approaches [that] risks eroding trust between local people and conservation staff.” One of the program’s researchers, Diogo Verissimo, said it was simpler for governments to demonstrate action by putting money into law enforcement.
via Mongabay
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

Consumer focus – Tackling illegal wildlife trade by reducing demand
Since 2002, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working to stem poaching, illegal trade and consumption of marine turtles on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. I’m looking forward to presenting my findings at ‘Evidence to Action: Research to Address the Illegal Wildlife Trade’ and, in particular, sharing what we’ve learned – and learning from others – when we attend next month’s Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London.
via Fauna & Flora International
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

Illegal wildlife trade endangers plants — but few are listening
Government officials from around the world will meet in London this week to develop action plans to combat the illegal trade of pangolin scales, elephant ivory, and rhino horn, but some of the world’s most heavily trafficked wildlife – plants - won’t be discussed. This is despite calls from across the conservation field, including IUCN, to give plants a voice.
via IUCN News
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions

London Conference to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade
A National Geographic investigative reporter will be a key speaker at a high level conference in London this evening, convened to address the illegal wildlife trade. The event will serve as a prelude to a major Heads of Government conference hosted by the UK Government on 11-12 October, which aims to build coalitions between sectors, such as researchers, NGOs, civil society (including the media) and governments in order to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
via National Geographic
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

Researchers Explore Ways to Bring Attention to and Inform Policy on the Illegal Wildlife Trade
More than 250 scientists, researchers, environmental experts, practitioners and reporters gathered in London this week ahead of a UK-sponsored conference on the illegal wildlife trade to talk about the threat trafficking poses to biodiversity. Their aim was to discuss ways that science and evidence-based studies can and should inform policies aimed at curbing the illegal trafficking of species, a trade worth an estimated $23 billion annually, according to Dominic Jermey, head of the Zoological Society of London, which hosted the conference.
via Earth Journalism Network
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage

To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife
The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. As legislation and law enforcement have been insufficient to protect many wildlife species, conservationists are increasingly focused on campaigns to help reduce demand for wildlife products. Social marketing is increasingly being used to support biodiversity conservation efforts, but the extent of its use has seldom been researched. Based on interviews with conservation practitioners, we assess the extent to which social marketing has been used in demand reduction campaign design. We do this by investigating the level to which demand reduction campaigns met the benchmarks defined by the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre. We focus on rhino horn and elephant ivory, two high-profile products in the illegal wildlife trade and in China and Vietnam given their role as key consumer countries. We also investigate how conservation practitioners view the opportunities and challenges of using social marketing in the context of reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products. Our findings highlight that there are substantial gaps between best practice in social marketing and current practices in the design of demand reduction campaigns. However, several elements of social marketing are widely utilized and a platform exists from which to build more comprehensive behavioral influence campaigns in future. In terms of future needs, practitioners highlighted the need for independent consumer research upon which to build target audience insights, a focus on broader audience segments beyond the product consumers, and the improvement of collaborations across institutions.
Greenfield, S., & Veríssimo, D. (2018). To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn. Social Marketing Quarterly.
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Research Articles

rcites: An R package to access the CITES Speciesplus database - Open Access
The conservation of biodiversity is a complex problem strongly tight to political actions. CITES is a multilateral environmental agreement that was established in 1975 and aims to monitor and regulate the trade of endangered species so that their trade does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. In 2013, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the CITES Secretariat created Speciesplus, a comprehensive database of not only CITES listed species and their regulation status within CITES but also the species’ status within the EU legislation and the species’ status within the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. Speciesplus is publicly available at With rcites we provide an R client to the Speciesplus/CITES Checklist API, giving access to the Speciesplus database. The ability to query the database will improve the efficiency and reproducibility of biodiversity conservation analysis workflows.
Geschke et al., (2018). rcites: An R package to access the CITES Speciesplus database. Journal of Open Source Software, 3(31), 1091,
Categories: Useful Links

OMP-IWT Flickr Gallery
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Videos & Media

OMP-IWT YouTube Playlist
Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Videos & Media

Documenting and tackling the illegal wildlife trade: change and continuity over 40 years
In October 2018 the UK government hosts a major international governmental conference on tackling the illegal wildlife trade, the latest in a series that it initiated in 2014 with a conference attended by representatives of 50 countries (UK Government, 2014).This emphasis on illegal wildlife trade as a priority conservation issue is very welcome. The trade is not, however, a new problem. Looking back to past experiences and attempts to address such trade can provide valuable insights for current policy and practice. To mark and contribute to the deliberations of the October 2018 London conference we have compiled 16 of these articles into a virtual issue (, illustrating both the persistent and changing themes in illegal wildlife trade research as represented in Oryx from the 1960s to the present day.
Milner-Gulland, E. (2018). Documenting and tackling the illegal wildlife trade: Change and continuity over 40 years. Oryx, 52(4), 597-598. doi:10.1017/S0030605318001047
Published: Sep 2018 | Categories: Research Articles

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