The UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund is investing in 12 research hubs across the world over the next 5 years. One of these is the TRADE Hub, which aims to make trade a positive force for both people and nature conservation. The project, led by UNEP-WCMC and involving over 50 partner organisations including the University of Oxford, will study patterns of trade in wildlife, wild meat and agricultural goods to gain a more robust understanding of how different systems of trade affect biodiversity, with the aim of finding solutions for minimising these impacts. The TRADE Hub will focus its efforts primarily on eight countries: Brazil, Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. More here.
Legal Atlas provides a highly specialized and customizable legal intelligence platform that can be used to gain insight into the laws governing illicit activities, including wildlife trade by enabling the rapid and comprehensive compilation and comparison of applicable sanctions. It is currently supporting the WILDS project (researching how sanctions against IWT can better reflect impacts to society) and the Legis-Ape project (a legal systematic assessment for the conservation and protection of great apes and gibbons). Legal Atlas has also recently been used to review wildlife cybercrime law and the application of anti-money laundering laws to wildlife trade crimes supporting the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
How anyone can help saigas, right now from their computer, without donating any money or major amounts of time?
Working in a saiga antelope consumer country I’ve become increasingly aware of one small truth, most consumers of saiga horn have never even heard of the word ‘saiga’. Now, this is none too surprising given the fact that saiga is the English common name (as well as Latin genus name), and many consumers do not speak English. But what may be surprising, is that many consumers in our study area, and beyond, have no idea what the animal is at all, let alone how the horns are procured, what countries it lives in, and what its conservation or trade status is. (FYI for soon-to-be converted saiga people, it’s a Critically Endangered antelope from Central Asia).
So how did this come to be? Especially given the fact that we live in a world where the globe is so interconnected on the internet, how is it that a consumer has no idea what product they’re buying?
It’s actually quite easy. If you are a consumer, you know of saiga only as ling yang (羚羊), a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) you purchase to treat ailments such as a fever or a cough. So when you search online for information regarding this medicine (what quantity to use, where to buy it, how effective it is), all you will ever see fed back to you is information from other sources referring to the product as ling yang.
Thus exists two parallel worlds. One with saiga, the ungulate under major poaching and disease impact, and one with ling yang, the medicinal product. And these non-overlapping realities just reinforce the gap between those interested in saiga versus ling yang.
How many other species live in such dichotomous perceptions? Where the consumer and conservationist view the same plant or animal in two entirely different ways, with little to no cross-over in information, discussion, or understanding. I can posit quite a few.
My call to saiga people the globe over is, therefore, to start integrating the pinyin and Chinese characters into everything: all saiga conservation and research webpages or posts that mention saiga horns as used in TCM, no matter the language. Our goal is for ling yang users to start seeing webpages, social media posts, and news about saiga, whenever they look up info on the horn as a medicine.
Combatting the entire issue of unsustainable demand will not, in truth, be solved by this little fix, but I would argue that it is a critical, and necessary, step to at least providing an opportunity for consumers to know more about the medicine in their medicine cabinet that we know of as saiga.
Add this text at least once to every webpage, and whenever possible in social media posts, when referring to saiga horn as a TCM product: (ling yang, 羚羊)
As a note, ling yang in Chinese usually means just antelope (or wild antelope), but in the context of TCM, it is almost always referring to saiga antelope horns.
A researcher working with ling yang consumers
People Not Poaching, a Communities and IWT Learning Platform recently launched as a positive new initiative to foster learning and experience-sharing on supporting and engaging communities in initiatives to reduce poaching and IWT. It is a joint project between the IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and TRAFFIC.
Researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade have been invited by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to take part in a new consortium of specialists in demand reduction and behaviour change, as part of efforts to tackle the global trade in illegal wildlife products.
The Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan is aimed at improving co-ordination across the public and private to tackle the online trade in illegal wildlife products. The plan brings together a number of major organisations and expertise working on combating the illegal wildlife trade, including IFAW, INTERPOL, Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent, TRAFFIC and WWF.
On October 9, 2018, the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, BIOSEC University of Sheffield, Lancaster Environment Centre, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and the Zoological Society of London held the event, Evidence to Action: Research to Address the Illegal Wildlife Trade. Read the full event summary here.
The Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (OMP-IWT) is thrilled to announce its 2nd Symposium on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), which will be hosted in partnership with BIOSEC University of Sheffield, Lancaster Environmental Centre, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and associated with the Royal Society. The meeting will be held in Central London prior to the 2018 London IWT Conference.
The first day, on October 9th, will bring together those carrying out research addressing IWT, and their collaborators from around the world, to discuss new ways to address this global threat more effectively. The second day, on October 10th, will be reaching out to government representatives attending the London Conference, and other colleagues in a range of sectors, with interactive discussions and exhibits on IWT research.
More information will be available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and save the date!
Advances in technology and connectivity across the world, combined with rising buying power and demand for illegal wildlife products, have increased the ease of exchange from poacher to consumer. As a result, an unregulated online market allows criminals to sell illegally obtained wildlife products across the globe. Purchasing elephant ivory, tiger cubs, and pangolin scales is as easy as click, pay, ship.
Fortunately, the world’s biggest e-commerce, technology, and social media companies (such as eBay, Google, Microsoft and Tencent) have joined forces to shut down online marketplaces for wildlife traffickers. The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online brings together companies from across the world in partnership with wildlife experts at WWF, TRAFFIC the wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for an industry-wide approach to reduce wildlife trafficking online by 80% by 2020.
For more information and how to get involved, see here.