Case Study 1: Disentangling the interconnected legal and illegal market for bear bile products in China
Oxford Researcher: Dr Amy Hinsley
There is extensive debate over the use of legal, farmed wildlife products to reduce demand for wild products, and the case of bear bile farming in China has been particularly controversial. This case-study sought to better understand the current market for farmed and wild bear bile by carrying out in-depth research into the behaviour and motivations of the people who consume, sell, and prescribe bear bile in China. From 2018-2020, we used large-scale surveys with members of the public, interviews with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors and pharmacy workers, and in-depth surveys with bear bile consumers to investigate their preferences for different products.
Specific project objectives included:
- Finding out how many people use bear bile and why they use it, using information form consumers, doctors and vendors of bile in the main cities of four Chinese provinces. More information available soon (Open Access):
- Hinsley, A., Hu, S., Chen, H., Garshelis, D. , Hoffmann, M., Lee, T.M., Moyle, B. , Qiu, Y., Ruan, X. Wan, A.K.Y., Zhou, J. , and Milner-Gulland, E.J. Combining data from consumers and traditional medicine practitioners to provide a more complete picture of Chinese bear bile markets. People and Nature (in press).
- Understanding how and why people make the decision to ‘switch’ between wild, farmed and synthetic bear bile.
- The main output will be an open access paper looking at consumer preferences for different bear bile products amongst real bear bile consumers (currently submitted and in review).
- Producing recommendations based on our findings to inform policy related to bear bile farming in China.
- Our main output will be a report, responding to an IUCN World Conservation Congress Recommendation, that called for more evidence on the consumption and trade of bear bile in China (currently in prep).
An additional objective was added in early 2021, when we ran a follow-up project (funded by a DEFRA IWT Challenge Fund Rapid Response COVID-19 grant) to determine the best strategies for reducing illegal wildlife use in TCM post-COVID-19. Using our original study as a baseline, we looked at whether bear bile and other animal-based medicine consumption had changed during the COVID-19 pandemic in China, and held co-design workshops with consumers, TCM doctors and pharmacy workers to design evidence-based strategies to reduce demand for wild bear bile and other illegal wildlife-based medicines.
- The main outputs will be open access scientific papers and a policy brief in Chinese, that has been shared and discussed with policymakers in China. We will shortly translate this into English.
Collaborators: Professor Tien Ming Lee (Sun Yat Sen University), Dr Mike Hoffman (IUCN SSC), Dr Xiangdong Ruan (Academy of Forest Inventory and Planning, National Forestry and Grassland Administration), Dr Dave Garshelis (IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group), Mr Yingjie Qiu (China Association of TCM), Dr Brendan Moyle (Massey University)
Collaborating organisations: IUCN Bear Specialist Group, Massey University, Sun Yat-Sen University, , Academy of Forest Inventory and Planning, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, China Association of TCM
Thanks to the generous support of:
The Oxford Martin School and the DEFRA IWT Challenge Fund
Case study 7: Tackling non-compliance in a small-scale fishery in Chile
Oxford Researcher: Rodrigo Oyanedel
Reducing non-compliance is key to sustaining the ecological, social and economic ecosystem services that natural resources provide. The impacts of non-compliance are especially acute in small-scale resource users, which usually involve poor management and limited enforcement capacity. In the context of fisheries, small-scale fishing non-compliance has been linked to the collapse of fishing stocks and habitat destruction. Dealing with non-compliance is thus necessary, particularly as small-scale communities are often highly dependent on natural resources as a source of livelihood. Reducing non-compliance in small-scale users is therefore a key challenge for conserving biodiversity worldwide while maintaining livelihood.
This is an issue of great importance in Chile. It is one of the largest producers of marine products in the world, with average landings of 3.1 million tonnes between 2005-2014. Fisheries management in Chile, although progressive in the application of innovative and science-based schemes, suffers from chronic non-compliance. Increasing compliance in Chile’s fisheries is urgent for improving the sustainability of the sector and maintaining small-scale fishers livelihoods. Furthermore, lessons from this case-study can be used to advance our understanding of non-compliance issues in small-scale resource use more broadly.
For this case-study, we have:
- Reviewed different approaches and theories that could be used to understand non-compliance. We focused on how to integrate two main approaches for studying non-compliance. These are the actor based-approach that address the underlying motivations for people to comply or not with regulations and the opportunity-based approach that focuses on the role that the immediate environment plays in the performance of non-compliant behaviours. Read more here:
A synthesis of (non-)compliance theories with applications to small-scale fisheries research and practice. Fish Fish. 2020; 21: 1120– 1134. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12490, , .
- We then looked in more depth into small-scale fishers’ motivations for compliance with different rules in the common-hake case study. Using a framework originally developed for forestry, we found that a diversity of motivations (normative, instrumental and legitimacy-based) helps to explain fishers’ varied responses to rules and regulations. Read more here:
Motivations for (non-)compliance with conservation rules by small-scale resource users. Conservation Letters. 2020; 13:e12725. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12725, , .
- We also developed a framework to assess and intervene in unsustainable natural resource supply-chain and markets. We showcased the utility of the framework in a data-limited small-scale common hake fishery. Our mixed-methodanalysis provided relevant, tailored management recommendations for improving sustainability. Tackling markets driving unsustainable wildlife use needs integrated approaches that bring together the diversity of factors affecting wildlife market dynamics. Read more here (email us for a copy):
- Oyanedel R., Gelcich S., Milner-Gulland E.J. (2021) A framework for assessing and intervening in markets driving unsustainable wildlife use,
Science of The Total Environment. Volume 792, 148328, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148328
- Oyanedel R., Gelcich S., Milner-Gulland E.J. (2021) A framework for assessing and intervening in markets driving unsustainable wildlife use,
Currently, we are working on the development of a model to analyse enforcement data in Chile, to assess whether this source of information can provide insights into where illegality might concentrate, by disentangling co-founding factors and biases. We hope that this line of work will inform how to use this type of data in marine systems and beyond.
Collaborator: Stefan Gelcich
Collaborating organisation: Universidad Catolica de Chile
Previous Case Studies
Case Study 2: Consumer relationships with ivory and rhino horn as luxury products in Vietnam
Oxford Researcher: Dr Vian Sharif
While in the past the main markets for rhino horn and ivory were thought to be in China, it is now widely traded in Viet Nam, with rhino horn having luxury status as a health tonic for wealthy businessmen, while both are sold as artefacts such as bangles and carved pieces. Despite substantial investment of time and resources into tackling the demand for wildlife products in Viet Nam, there is still a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of different approaches, and limited understanding of the demographics and motivations of consumers.
The case study fills this gap, answering the following questions, using methods from marketing research to understand particularly the role of wildlife products as luxury brands:
- What is the prevalence of consumption of rhino horn and ivory within an urban affluent demographic group, and through online sales?
- What relationships do people have with rhino horn and ivory, compared to other luxury products?
- What specific interventions are best suited to changing consumer behaviour?
Collaborator: Dr Andreas Eisengerich
Collaborating organisation: Imperial College London
Case Study 3: A Cutting-Edge And Evidence-Based Behaviour Change Intervention on Saiga Horn In Singapore
Oxford Researchers: Dr Hunter Doughty, Dr Diogo Veríssimo, Dr Joss Wright
A plethora of demand reduction efforts on wildlife trade products are carried out each year across the globe, however, shortcomings in interventions attempting to change consumers’ behaviour have been widely noted. In other disciplines like public health though, behaviour change interventions have been extensively implemented and offer useful insights for increasing the success of wildlife trade interventions. As such, we designed, implemented, and evaluated an evidence-based behaviour change intervention that applies robust approaches from outside of conservation science. We targeted saiga horn (marketed as líng yáng, 羚羊) usage in Singapore. The saiga (Saiga tatarica) is a Critically Endangered antelope from Central Asia whose horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat fever and heatiness (a TCM state of illness with symptoms like cough). We accomplished this work through four stages:
- By conducting extensive consumer research, we found that not only is saiga horn commonly used in Singapore, but many Chinese Singaporeans consider saiga horn the product option they use most often for treating fever and heatiness. Further findings showed that middle-aged Chinese Singaporean women were an ideal target for an intervention. Read more here (open access):
- H Doughty, D Veríssimo, R Tan, JSH Lee, LR Carrasco, K Oliver, EJ Milner-Gulland (2019). Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore. PLOS ONE. DOI: 1371/journal.pone.0222038.
- By weaving together empirical evidence and human behaviour theory, we have not only identified key influences to leverage on our target audience – i.e., middle-aged Chinese Singaporean women, but also provided a reproducible process for others to design their own interventions. Read more here (open access):
- H Doughty, K Oliver, D Veríssimo, JSH Lee, EJ Milner-Gulland (2021). Using theory and evidence to design behaviour change interventions for reducing unsustainable wildlife consumption. People and Nature. https://bit.ly/3qns4hD.
- By using cutting-edge techniques around targeted online advertisements, news coverage, and repeat message exposure, our intervention yielded widespread positive engagement among our target audience. Read more here (open access):
- H Doughty, J Wright, D Veríssimo, JSH Lee, EJ Milner-Gulland (2020). Strategic advertising of online news articles as an intervention to influence wildlife product consumers. Conservation Science and Practice. DOI: 1111/csp2.272.
- By conducting a multi-pronged evaluation, we revealed that our highly pervasive online intervention resulted in measurable offline behavioural impacts on middle-aged Chinese Singaporean women’s usage of saiga horn. Read more here (open access):
- H Doughty, EJ Milner-Gulland, JSH Lee, K Oliver, LR Carrasco, D Veríssimo (2021). Evaluating a large-scale online behaviour change intervention aimed at wildlife product consumers in Singapore. DOI: 1371/journal.pone.0248144.
Other outputs and mainstream outreach associated with this case study include:
- Policy Brief – Resulting brief of Doughty et al. (2019) used for the 2019 CITES Conference of the Parties. DOI:10.31235/osf.io/sjqpu, (brief was discussed by delegates during saiga up-listing discourse)
- Selected Blog Article – Harnessing online tools to save a species (2020), https://bit.ly/3mP08SC
- Selected Talk – Using strategic advertising of online news articles to influence wildlife trade consumers (2020) https://bit.ly/3o58ANA
Case Study 4: Exploring the effective use of celebrities in wildlife demand reduction: pangolin meat consumption reduction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Celebrities are often used to influence the public to change their awareness of, attitudes or behaviour towards illegal wildlife products. However, there is limited evidence about how effective this is, and there has been no evaluation of how to design such campaigns to maximise their impact. This case study seeks to provide an evidence base on how best to use celebrities to deliver messages on the illegal wildlife trade, drawing on empirical evidence from in conservation and other fields. This case study seeks to provide an evidence base on how best to use celebrities to deliver messages on the illegal wildlife trade, focusing on reducing pangolin meat consumption in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. For further details, see the Pangolin Project Briefing Document.
Specific project objectives include:
- Creating a knowledge base on the use of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns generally, the extent to which these have been evaluated and assess whether there is evidence for celebrity endorsement effectiveness. Read more below (Open Access):
- Olmedo, A., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Challender, D.W.S., Cugnière, L., et al. (2020). A scoping review of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns and evidence for its effectiveness. Conservation Science and Practice, 2 (10), 65–15.
- Obtaining evidence of the prevalence of pangolin consumption in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to build understanding on the study system in which we will test celebrity effectiveness. Read more below (Open Access):
- Olmedo, A., Veríssimo, D., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Hinsley, A., Dao, H.T.T., Challender, D.W.S. (2021). Uncovering Prevalence of Pangolin Consumption Using a Technique for Investigating Sensitive Behaviour. Oryx.
- Identifying and characterising different pangolin meat consumer groups, determining potential alternatives for wild meat and whether celebrities can be effective influencers of this behaviour. Read more below (Open Access):
- Olmedo, A., Veríssimo, D., Challender, D.W.S., Dao, H.T.T., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2021). “Who Eats Wild Meat? Profiling Consumers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.” People and Nature.
- Developing a guide for decision-making in conservation interventions that seek to change consumption of illegally traded wildlife using celebrity endorsement; and applying this guide to develop a celebrity-endorsed intervention to reduce pangolin meat consumption in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Coming soon!
- Examining the impact of commercial captive breeding of pangolins on pangolin conservation.
- Challender, DWS., ’t Sas-Rolfes, et al. (2019). Evaluating the feasibility of pangolin farming and its potential conservation impact. Global Ecology and Conservation e00714.
- ’t Sas-Rolfes, M., Challender, DWS. (2020). Evaluating the impact of pangolin farming on conservation. In: Challender, DWS., Nash, H., Waterman, C. (Eds.). Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation. Academic Press, London, UK, San Diego, CA, US, pp.517-527.
- Investigating and documenting the online trade in pangolins focussing on Vietnam and China. Coming soon!
Other research outputs associated with this project:
- Olmedo, A., Davis, E., & Hinsley, A. (2019). Asking sensitive questions in conservation using the Unmatched Count Technique.
And a selection of media outputs:
- Poaching is sending the shy, elusive pangolin to its doom. National Geographic. June 2019. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2019/06/poaching-sending-shy-elusive-pangolin-its-doom.
- Pangolins found to carry viruses related to COVID-19. BBC News. March 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52048195.
- Pangolins and Coronavirus. Guest on The John Darwall Show, BBC Radio Bristol. March 2020.
- Trafficked pangolins can carry coronaviruses closely related to pandemic strain. National Geographic. March 2020. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/pangolins-coronavirus-covid-possibility.
- TRT World Roundtable. Celebrity Activism: Does it make a difference? September 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWs7GEoyfOw&t=141s.
- Olmedo, A., Challender, D., Veríssimo, D. Do celebrity endorsements really help environmental campaigns? We found no evidence. September 2020. The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/do-celebrity-endorsements-really-help-environmental-campaigns-we-found-no-evidence-145481.
- Pangolin scale seizures at all-time high in 2019, showing illegal trade still booming: September 2020. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/pangolin-scale-seizures-all-time-high-2019.
Thanks to the generous support of:
The National Geographic Society and the Oxford Martin School
Case Study 5: Illegal Jaguar Trade in Latin America: An Evidence-Based Approach to Support Conservation Actions
Oxford Researcher: Melissa Arias, Dr Amy Hinsley, Yuhan Li
In recent years, evidence suggesting an upsurge of trade in jaguar (Panthera onca) body parts to supply domestic and international markets has emerged throughout Latin America. Despite gaining significant media and policy attention, there is still limited understanding on the scale, drivers and characteristics of this threat to Latin America’s most iconic wild cat.
This case study aims to fill this knowledge gap and support decision-making to address jaguar trade by:
- Exploring the illegal trade chains, actors and motivations behind the illegal trade in jaguars in Mesoamerica, through key informant interviews. Read more here (email us for a copy):
- Arias, M., Hinsley, A., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2020). Characteristics of, and uncertainties about, illegal jaguar trade in Belize and Guatemala. Biological Conservation. 250, 108765.
- Estimating the prevalence of jaguar killing and trading behaviours, as well as the domestic and foreign uses of jaguar body parts in Bolivia through large-scale questionnaire surveys and indirect questioning techniques such as the Ballot Box Method. Read more here (open access):
- Arias, M., Hinsley, A., Nogales‐Ascarrunz, P., Negroes, N., Glikman, J. A., & Milner‐Gulland, E. J. (2021). Prevalence and characteristics of illegal jaguar trade in north‐western Bolivia. Conservation Science and Practice.
- Arias, M., Hinsley, A., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2020). Implementing the Ballot Box Method to reduce social desirability bias when researching sensitive behaviours in conservation. Oxford Martin Programme on Wildlife Trade Tools and Guidance. SocArXiv
- Understanding the socioeconomic, psychological and market-based drivers of commercial and non-commercial behaviours surrounding the illegal jaguar trade in Bolivia. Read more here (open access):
- Arias, M., Hinsley, A., Nogales‐Ascarrunz, P., Carvajal‐Bacarreza, P. J., Negroes, N., Glikman, J. A., & Milner‐Gulland, E. J. (2021). Complex interactions between commercial and noncommercial drivers of illegal trade for a threatened felid. Animal Conservation. acv.12683
- Check out the short (4-min) summary video, in English and Spanish.
- Exploring how jaguar trade evidence is, and is not, used for decision-making to conserve the species. More coming soon!
Other outputs associated with this case study as part of broader collaborations with other organizations and authors include:
- Arias, M., & Lambert, A. E. (2019). Jaguar trafficking dynamics in Latin America: Analysis Report. Wildlife Conservation Society.
- Arias, M. (2021). Illegal Trade in Jaguars (Panthera onca). A study in Support of CITES Decisions on Jaguars. Out soon!
- Multi-lingual multi-platform investigations of online trade in jaguar parts. Wildlife Conservation Society. Out soon!
And a few blogs:
Data collection was based in Mesoamerica and Bolivia, in order to distinguish regional differences in the jaguar trade chain and market dynamics. Bringing together theories and methodologies from the social and natural sciences, including direct and indirect questioning techniques, interviews, online trade surveys, and literature reviews, this research will provide a comprehensive understanding of jaguar trade while also providing insights on the role of evidence within illegal wildlife trade.
Collaborating organisations: Wildlife Conservation Society Mesoamerica, San Diego Zoo, Asociación Boliviana para la Investigación y Conservación de Ecosistemas Andino‐Amazónicos (ACEAA), Colección Boliviana de Fauna
Thanks to the generous support of the:
Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENESCYT), Wildlife Conservation Society Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship, Wildlife Conservation Network, Society of Conservation Biology Rufford Foundation, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, St. Cross College, University of Oxford, and the Society of American Mammalogists.
Case study 6: The reliability and conservation value of ranger-collected data on elephant poaching in Zimbabwe
Oxford Researcher: Dr Timothy Kuiper
Collecting and evaluating baseline ecological and social data is central to evidence-based management of natural resources. Monitoring data may, however, be biased and imprecise; and monitoring results are often poorly integrated with local decision-making and anti-poaching. Using the programme for monitoring of the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE), this case study sought to address the following questions:
- What factors affect the reliability of ranger-collected data on elephant poaching?
- What factors affect the degree to which monitoring data are effectively used to inform anti-poaching?
A large protected area complex in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe, is the study system. We combined rigorous quantitative methods with in-depth qualitative methods to provide an integrated understanding of the data dynamics and human dynamics of the ranger-based monitoring-management system.
- ZimParks staff have been close research collaborators since 2018, co-authoring two recent publications: one on participatory modelling to identify elephant poaching hotspots (email us for a copy) from ranger-collected data, and another on ranger perceptions of data collection (Open Access).
- Stakeholder research summary – Maximising ranger-collected data on elephant poaching.
- The Conservation article on the case-studies key result can be found here: Statistical models and ranger insights help identify patterns in elephant poaching
- A policy brief addressed to the Zimbabwean government will be available soon. Written in collaboration with ZimParks, it translates the key findings of this research into clear and practical policy recommendations (learn more).
This case study has now evolved into an exciting policy collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks).
Thanks to the generous support of:
Oxford Policy Engagement Network, and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK