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/osf.io/fgr9d
    Published: Feb 2019 | Categories: Research Briefs


    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


    A Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation in 2019
    We present the results of our tenth annual horizon scan. We identified 15 emerging priority topics that may have major positive or negative effects on the future conservation of global biodiversity, but currently have low awareness within the conservation community. We hope to increase research and policy attention on these areas, improving the capacity of the community to mitigate impacts of potentially negative issues, and maximise the benefits of issues that provide opportunities. Topics include advances in crop breeding, which may affect insects and land use; manipulations of natural water flows and weather systems on the Tibetan Plateau; release of carbon and mercury from melting polar ice and thawing permafrost; new funding schemes and regulations; and land-use changes across Indo-Malaysia.
    Sutherland, W. et al. 2019. A Horizon Scan of Emerging Issues for Global Conservation in 2019. Trends in Ecology & Evolution Vol. 34 (1): 83-94.
    Published: Jan 2019 | Categories: Research Articles


    Social media, e-commerce sites facilitate illegal orchid trade
    While many orchids sold online are grown in greenhouses and have proper documentation, wild orchid traffickers are increasingly poaching the plants from protected forests, posing grave risks to the impacted species.
    via Mongabay
    Published: Dec 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage


    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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500418813543
    Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn
    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.J. & Veríssimo D. (2019). To what extent is social marketing used in demand reduction campaigns for illegal wildlife products? Social Marketing Quarterly, Vol 25 (1), 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500418813543
    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 https://speciesplus.net. 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, https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.01091
    Categories: Useful Links


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


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


    Illegal wildlife trade’s ‘dirty money’ targeted by big banks
    Leading global banks and financial institutions have pledged their commitment to a financial task force to uncover laundering of profits derived from the illegal wildlife trade. Alongside the task force, there are also calls for a greater focus on the role corruption plays in facilitating the poaching of fauna and flora. There have also been warnings that efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade should not focus too heavily on large, charismatic mammals like elephants and rhinos.
    via Mongabay
    Published: Oct 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage


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