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 (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/virtual-issues), 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


    Reducing demand for illegal wildlife products: Research analysis on strategies to change illegal wildlife product consumer behaviour
    The illegal trade in wildlife is a substantial threat to the survival of many species. Past efforts to address this trade have been primarily focused on law enforcement to prevent the poaching and illegal harvest of animals and plants, and trafficking of their parts, products and derivatives along trade routes. However, a complementary effort is also required to address demand amongst consumers. This need has been recognised by governments, international organisations, NGOs and others, through several highlevel declarations and commitments to action. Stakeholders now have an imperative to understand and apply the most effective and efficient strategic approaches through which to change consumer choice, and shift purchasing preference and buyer behaviour away from illegal wildlife products. Within this context, the UK government commissioned and funded a research project to identify insights into what could be effective in changing illegal wildlife product consumer behaviour. The project has been implemented by a consortium of organisations, featuring TRAFFIC, WWF, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford.
    Burgess G., Zain S., Milner-Gulland E.J., Eisingerich A. B., Sharif V., Ibbett H., Olmedo Castro A., Sohl H. 2018. Reducing demand for illegal wildlife products: Research analysis on strategies to change illegal wildlife product consumer behaviour.
    Published: Sep 2018 | Categories: Reports
    Reducing demand for illegal wildlife products


    Qualitative Impact Evaluation of a Social Marketing Campaign for Conservation
    Social marketing campaigns use marketing techniques to influence human behavior for the greater social good. In conservation, social marketing campaigns have been used to influence behavior for the benefit of biodiversity as well as society. However, there are few evaluations of their effectiveness. We used General Elimination Methodology, a theory‐driven qualitative evaluation method, to assess the long‐term impacts of a social marketing campaign on human behavior and biodiversity. We evaluated a 1998 Rare Pride Campaign on the island of Bonaire, designed to increase the population of the lora (Amazona barbadensis), a threatened parrot species. To evaluate the campaigns impacts, we interviewed a range of stakeholder groups to understand their perceptions of the drivers of the changes in the lora population over time. We used this data to develop an overall Theory of Change to explain changes in the lora population by looking at the overlap in hypotheses within and between stakeholder groups. We then triangulated that Theory of Change with evidence from government reports, peer‐reviewed literature, and newspapers. Our results suggest that the observed increase in the lora population can be largely attributed to a decrease in illegal poaching of loras and an associated decrease in local demand for pet loras. The decreases in both poaching and demand have likely been driven by a combination of law enforcement, social marketing campaigns (including the Rare campaign), and environmental education in schools. General Elimination Methodology proved to be an illuminating post‐hoc evaluation method for understanding the complexity around how multiple interventions have influenced conservation outcomes over time. There is a need for evidence‐based evaluations of social marketing interventions to ensure that limited resources are spent wisely. Here we present a new approach for evaluating the influences of social marketing campaigns on both human behavior and conservation outcomes.
    Salazar, G., Mills, M., & Veríssimo, D. (2018). Qualitative Impact Evaluation of a Social Marketing Campaign for Conservation. Conservation Biology.
    Published: Sep 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    Evidence to Action Briefing Note
    Tools and expertise to improve the evidence base for national and international Illegal Wildlife Trade policy already exist but are underutilised. Tapping into these resources would produce substantive benefits for wildlife conservation and associated sectors, enabling governments to better meet their obligations under the Sustainable Development Goals and international biodiversity conventions. This can be achieved through enhanced funding support for inter-sectoral research collaborations, engaging researchers in priority setting and programme design, increasing developing country research capacity and engaging researchers and community voices in policy processes. This briefing, addressed to policy makers and practitioners, is part of the 2018 Evidence to Action: Research to Address Illegal Wildlife Trade event programme, organised by five of the UK’s most active IWT research institutions, to support the London 2018 IWT Conference.
    Milner-Gulland, E.J., Cugniere, L., Hinsley, A., Phelps, J., ‘t Sas-Rolfes, M., Verissimo, D. (2018) Evidence to Action: Research to address the illegal wildlife trade. Briefing note to policy-makers and practitioners.
    Published: Sep 2018 | Categories: Research Briefs


    Demography and social dynamics of an African elephant population 35 years after reintroduction as juveniles
    Given their vulnerability to local extinction, the reintroduction of megafauna species (often long‐lived, ecologically influential and highly social) is an increasingly relevant conservation intervention. Studies that evaluate past megafauna reintroductions are both critical and rare. Between 1981 and 1996, 12 cohorts of a total of 200 juvenile (10 years old) composed 30% of the population in 2016. The population remains relatively young and forecasts suggest high potential for sustained growth over the next decade. The first calf was born to a reintroduced female in 1990 and since then mother–calf units have gradually developed into semi‐independent multi‐generation families (7–15 individuals in size in 2016). The size of observed cow–calf groups was highly variable (mean = 21.4 individuals, range: 7–109), with repeat observation of individual collared females revealing fusion and fission among different family groups through time, as is typical of more natural elephant populations. Synthesis and applications. From an unusual founder population of reintroduced juvenile elephants, we document rapid population growth and the development of normal sociality over 35 years. While this may be an encouragement for megaherbivore reintroductions in general, the potential for exponential population growth must be carefully considered when ecologically influential species are introduced to closed systems. Our study provides key long‐term insights for elephant translocations, which are becoming increasingly necessary due to overpopulation in some areas and local extinction in others.
    Kuiper TR, Druce DJ, Druce HC. Demography and social dynamics of an African elephant population 35 years after reintroduction as juveniles. J Appl Ecol. 2018;55:2898–2907. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13199
    Published: Jun 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China (Open Access)
    Overexploitation of wildlife for trade threatens taxa globally. Interest in demand‐side approaches to address this problem has grown but understanding of how consumer preferences shape demand remains limited. To quantify the role of consumer preferences for wild orchids in China's horticultural market, we used conjoint analysis to determine which attributes are preferred by orchid owners and nonowners in two socioeconomically contrasting areas of South China. Across all respondents, price was the most important attribute followed by flower color. While Xishuangbanna participants exhibited a slight preference for wild over cultivated plants, origin (wild/cultivated) was of minimal importance. We also measured awareness of orchid import regulations. Most did not recognize the CITES logo, and knowledge of import laws was significantly lower in Hong Kong than in Xishuangbanna. Our findings suggest that trade in wild ornamental orchids in South China is supply‐driven, and strengthened regulations might be effective in reducing overexploitation.
    Williams SJ, Gale SW, Hinsley A, Gao J, St. John FAV. Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China. Conservation Letters. 2018;11:e12569. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12569
    Published: May 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    Automated Discovery of Internet Censorship by Web Crawling
    Censorship of the Internet is widespread around the world. As access to the web becomes increasingly ubiquitous, filtering of this resource becomes more pervasive. Transparency about specific content that citizens are denied access to is atypical. To counter this, numerous techniques for maintaining URL filter lists have been proposed by various individuals and organisations that aim to empirical data on censorship for benefit of the public and wider censorship research community. We present a new approach for discovering filtered domains in different countries. This method is fully automated and requires no human interaction. The system uses web crawling techniques to traverse between filtered sites and implements a robust method for determining if a domain is filtered. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach by running experiments to search for filtered content in four different censorship regimes. Our results show that we perform better than the current state of the art and have built domain filter lists an order of magnitude larger than the most widely available public lists as of Jan 2018. Further, we build a dataset mapping the interlinking nature of blocked content between domains and exhibit the tightly networked nature of censored web resources.
    Darer, A., Farnan, O., & Wright, J. (2018, May). Automated Discovery of Internet Censorship by Web Crawling. In Proceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science (pp. 195-204). ACM. DOI: 10.1145/3201064.3201091
    Published: Apr 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    On Identifying Anomalies in Tor Usage with Applications in Detecting Internet Censorship
    We develop a means to detect ongoing per-country anomalies in the daily usage metrics of the Tor anonymous communication network, and demonstrate the applicability of this technique to identifying likely periods of internet censorship and related events. The presented approach identifies contiguous anomalous periods, rather than daily spikes or drops, and allows anomalies to be ranked according to deviation from expected behaviour. The developed method is implemented as a running tool, with outputs published daily by mailing list. This list highlights per-country anomalous Tor usage, and produces a daily ranking of countries according to the level of detected anomalous behaviour. This list has been active since August 2016, and is in use by a number of individuals, academics, and NGOs as an early warning system for potential censorship events. We focus on Tor, however the presented approach is more generally applicable to usage data of other services, both individually and in combination. We demonstrate that combining multiple data sources allows more specific identification of likely Tor blocking events. We demonstrate the our approach in comparison to existing anomaly detection tools, and against both known historical internet censorship events and synthetic datasets. Finally, we detail a number of significant recent anomalous events and behaviours identified by our tool.
    Wright, J., Darer, A., & Farnan, O. (2018, May). On Identifying Anomalies in Tor Usage with Applications in Detecting Internet Censorship. In Proceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science (pp. 87-96). ACM. DOI: 10.1145/3201064.3201093
    Published: Apr 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    Current media coverage of the illegal jaguar trade should concern conservationists
    According to a recent report by two Bolivian researchers, between 2014 and 2016, 344 jaguar fangs destined for China were seized by the Bolivian Forestry and Environment Police. Additional evidence of jaguar trade in Latin America comes from a WWF study in Surinam, where eight people were found to be in possession of jaguar fangs or meat, and two people admitted to being regular suppliers of jaguar products. As part of my PhD research at the University of Oxford, I have studied this emerging threat to jaguars by analysing published sources and conducting informal interviews with experts who are based in the countries where these reports have originated. From my research, I have learned that information on this recent wave of jaguar trade remains elusive and filled with uncertainty.
    via Oxford Martin School
    Published: Mar 2018 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Exploring saiga horn consumption in Singapore
    The Critically Endangered saiga antelope Saiga tatarica faces an uncertain future, with populations dwindling from epidemics in its range countries, and ongoing demand for its horns (ling yang, 羚羊) in the traditional Chinese medicine trade. Despite this, little is known about the consumers that drive domestic demand. Investigation into consumption prevalence and consumer demographics, knowledge and motivations has shown that awareness of conservation issues and regulations was uniformly low. Awareness raising may have an effect in reducing consumer demand in Singapore. However, given the exploratory nature of this study, it is best used to guide and inform future research underlying behavioural change interventions in a relatively understudied but important consumer group, Chinese Singaporeans.
    Theng, M., Glikman, J. A., and Milner-Gulland, E.J. 2018. Exploring saiga horn consumption in Singapore. Oryx, p. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605317001624
    Published: Mar 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    The illegal orchid trade and its implications for conservation
    When most people think of illegal wildlife trade, the first images that spring to mind are likely to be African elephants killed for their ivory, rhino horns being smuggled for medicine, or huge seizures of pangolins. But there is another huge global wildlife trade that is often overlooked, despite it involving thousands of species that are often traded illegally and unsustainably. Orchids are perhaps best known for the over one billion mass-market pot plants traded internationally each year, but there is also a large-scale commercial trade of wild orchids for food, medicine and as ornamental plants. This is despite the fact that all species of orchids are listed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which regulates and monitors the commercial trade of wild plants and animals that may be threatened by exploitation.
    via Oxford Martin School Can also be found at https://blog.oup.com/2018/03/illegal-orchid-trade-implications-conservation/
    Published: Mar 2018 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Platform Criminalism: The 'Last-Mile' Geography of the Darknet Market Supply Chain
    Does recent growth of darknet markets signify a slow reorganisation of the illicit drug trade? Where are darknet markets situated in the global drug supply chain? In principle, these platforms allow producers to sell directly to end users, bypassing traditional trafficking routes. And yet, there is evidence that many offerings originate from a small number of highly active consumer countries, rather than from countries that are primarily known for drug production. In a large-scale empirical study, we determine the darknet trading geography of three plant-based drugs across four of the largest darknet markets, and compare it to the global footprint of production and consumption for these drugs. We present strong evidence that cannabis and cocaine vendors are primarily located in a small number of consumer countries, rather than producer countries, suggesting that darknet trading happens at the 'last mile', possibly leaving old trafficking routes intact. A model to explain trading volumes of opiates is inconclusive. We cannot find evidence for significant production-side offerings across any of the drug types or marketplaces. Our evidence further suggests that the geography of darknet market trades is primarily driven by existing consumer demand, rather than new demand fostered by individual markets.
    Dittus, M., Wright, J., Graham, M. (2018). Platform Criminalism: The 'Last-Mile' Geography of the Darknet Market Supply Chain. WWW '18 Proceedings of the 2018 World Wide Web Conference, 277-286. doi:10.1145/3178876.3186094
    Published: Mar 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    The illegal orchid trade and its implications for conservation
    When most people think of illegal wildlife trade, the first images that spring to mind are likely to be African elephants killed for their ivory, rhino horns being smuggled for medicine, or huge seizures of pangolins. But there is another huge global wildlife trade that is often overlooked, despite it involving thousands of species that are often traded illegally and unsustainably. Orchids are perhaps best known for the over one billion mass-market pot plants traded internationally each year, but there is also a large-scale commercial trade of wild orchids for food, medicine and as ornamental plants. Conservation community should focus on conducting further research on trade dynamics and the impacts of collection for trade; strengthening the legal trade of orchids whilst developing and adopting measures to reduce illegal trade; and raising the profile of orchid trade among policy makers, conservationists and the public.
    via Oxford University Press blog
    Published: Mar 2018 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Did Harry Potter create a demand for pet owls in the UK?
    Much as been said in the popular media regarding a potential link between the Harry Potter movie and book series and an increase in demand for pet owls in the UK. But what does the evidence says? This explores research that has failed to find any connection between the boy wizard and owl keeping and questions how sentiments such as this can be so widely reported in the media, in the absence of any supporting evidence.
    via www.forbes.com
    Published: Jan 2018 | Categories: Media Coverage


    Measuring the impact of an entertainment-education intervention to reduce demand for bushmeat
    Using a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) framework design, an entertainment-education intervention is evaluated to ascertain changing attitudes to bushmeat consumption, with the aim of reducing demand for bushmeat trade in northern Tanzania. Analysis did not uncover any differences in outcomes between the treatment and control groups, and thus no evidence of the intervention achieving its initial goals. Authors highlight the challenges of implementing and evaluating such interventions (delivered through mass media in developing countries), as well as the importance of sharing results even when results indicate a negative or null result.
    Veríssimo, D., Schmid, C., Kimario, F. F. and Eves, H. E. (2018), Measuring the impact of an entertainment-education intervention to reduce demand for bushmeat. Anim Conserv. doi:10.1111/acv.12396
    Published: Jan 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    The illegal wildlife trade: Oxford Martin’s approach to a better understanding
    Aimed to inject some objective evidence into the international groundswell against the illegal wildlife trade, Nafeesa Esmail provides an account on the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade. Specifically, how the programme has been set up, its ambitious and a brief report with the main emerging themes from our recent annual symposium, held in September 2017.
    Published: Jan 2018 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Toolkit of Engagement
    This site features ideas and resources about how to best engage people in conservation and how to integrate them into conservation planning. The toolkit was developed by Audubon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Education and Training Partnership, and TogetherGreen, along with many other colleagues.
    Categories: Useful Links


    Outcome Mapping
    Outcome Mapping is an approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation that puts people at the centre, defines outcomes as changes in behaviour, and helps measure contribution to complex change processes. This website provides access to resources and case-studies, a directory of events and a community member forum.
    Categories: Useful Links


    PRISM Conservation Impact Evaluation Toolkit
    PRISM is a toolkit that aims to support small/medium-sized conservation projects to effectively evaluate the outcomes and impacts of their work. The toolkit has been developed by a collaboration of several conservation NGOs with additional input from scientists and practitioners from across the conservation sector.
    Categories: Useful Links


    Wildlife Trade Symposium 2017: Reviews from bursary delegates
    As part of San Diego Zoo Global’s support at our 2017 Wildlife Trade Symposium, we supported nine delegates from developing countries through a bursary scheme. Read testimonials on how their attendance at our Symposium has since helped them on their path to addressing the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade.
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Reports


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