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


    Wildlife Trade Symposium 2017: Biodiversity and Security
    As part of the 2017 Wildlife Trade Symposium, held from 25-27 September at the University of Oxford, the BIOSEC project team from The University of Sheffield, facilitated a knowledge exchange workshop on Biodiversity and Security. Here, Rosaleen Duffy, Hannah Dickinson and Laure Joanny review the discussions and outcomes of their session.
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Wildlife Trade Symposium 2017: Plenary presentations and discussions
    Visual summary of plenary presentations and discussions from day 1 of Evolving Perspectives on the demand for illegal wildlife products
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Reports


    The wild origin dilemma
    The sustainable production and trade of plants, animals, and their products, including through artificial propagation and captive breeding, is an important strategy to supply the global wildlife market, particularly when the trade in wild specimens is restricted by CITES or other wildlife trade legislation. However, these production methods can become a potential mechanism for the laundering of material illegally collected from the wild, leading to recent calls for the development of traceability methods to determine the origin of traded products.
    Amy Hinsley, David L. Roberts, The wild origin dilemma, In Biological Conservation, Volume 217, 2018, Pages 203-206, ISSN 0006-3207, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.11.011.
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    A review of the trade in orchids and its implications for conservation (Open Access)
    Orchids are one of the largest plant families and are commercially traded for a variety of purposes, including as ornamental plants, medicinal products and food. Much of this trade is the result of illegal harvest meaning that it is little documented and is absent from official statistics, at the same time as being of growing conservation concern.
    Amy Hinsley, Hugo J de Boer, Michael F Fay, Stephan W Gale, Lauren M Gardiner, Rajasinghe S Gunasekara, Pankaj Kumar, Susanne Masters, Destario Metusala, David L Roberts, Sarina Veldman, Shan Wong, Jacob Phelps; A review of the trade in orchids and its implications for conservation, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, , box083, https://doi.org/10.1093/botlinnean/box083
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Elephant conservation debates must become more constructive
    The conservation of wildlife is complex and often contested. This is particularly the case when the species concerned is large, charismatic, with monetary value, and whose presence in an area can cause major direct impacts on people's lives. Such is the case for Africa's elephants, but it is true for other species as well, including big cats, large ungulates (hoofed mammals) and wolves. Conflicts over how to manage these species are widespread and challenging to resolve.
    via www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/opinion
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Blogs & Opinions


    Breaking the ivory deadlock to protect elephants
    The issue of whether ivory trading should be legalised to fund elephant conservation, or banned altogether, is long standing and widely debated. Both sides of the argument are so contentious that emotional investment can distort our understanding of the core issues.
    via www.ox.ac.uk/news
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Media Coverage


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