Case Study 1: Disentangling the interacting legal and illegal markets for bear bile in China

Researcher: Dr Amy Hinsley

This case study includes both an on-the-ground study of the consumers and market for bear bile within China and an exploration of the online trade in bear products. It uses of a range of methods to describe and understand the complex, interacting markets for illegal and legal wildlife products.

It addresses the following questions:

  • What is the type and scale of the market for wild bile?
  • What is the type and scale of the market for farmed bile?
  • What are the interactions between these two markets?

The case study involves a survey targeted at key demographic groups, direct observations and the collation and use of secondary information for context. It will provide evidence for a report to the World Conservation Congress in 2020, following on from a recommendation passed in 2012 requiring this research to be carried out.

Collaborators: Dr Brendan Moyle, Dr Dave Garshelis, Prof Vincent Nijman, Dr David Roberts, Dr Julio Hernandez Castro

Collaborating organisations: IUCN Bear Specialist Group, Massey University, Sun Yat-Sen University, University of Kent

Case Study 2: Consumer relationships with ivory and rhino horn as luxury products in Vietnam

Researcher: 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: Sales of saiga products in Singapore

Researchers: Hunter Doughty, Dr Diogo Veríssimo

The aim of this case study is to demonstrate the power of the Medical Research Council’s intervention evaluation framework. The case study will enable us quantitatively to attribute impact to an intervention, by implementing an intervention based on a foundation of evidence, and then evaluating its impact. This gives the case study strong generalisability both within conservation and more broadly in the field of social policy.

We will answer the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics and preferences of saiga horn (ling yang, 羚羊) consumers in Singapore?
  • What insights and theories from public health and social psychology best elucidate this usage?
  • What health information content and delivery do saiga consumers most respond to?
  • What methods can be employed to assess changes in saiga horn usage?

Collaborators: Dr Janice Lee, Dr Roman Carrasco, Dr Kathryn Oliver

Collaborating organisations: Nanyang Technological University, National University Singapore, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Case Study 4: Exploring the effective use of celebrities in wildlife demand reduction: changing perceptions of pangolins in Vietnam

Researchers: Alegria Olmedo, Dr Dan Challender, Dr Diogo Veríssimo

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 will provide an evidence base on how best to use celebrities to deliver messages on the illegal wildlife trade, drawing on experience in conservation and other fields. Adopting an experimental approach, this case study will develop a baseline on the consumption of pangolin products in Vietnam, examine the potential role that celebrity endorsement could play in reducing demand for illegal pangolin products in the country and test a celebrity-based demand reduction campaign. It will also explore the potential effects of pangolin farming on demand and on wild populations, and quantify online illegal trade in pangolin products. The results will inform Vietnamese and international policy-makers (e.g., CITES) and be transferable beyond conservation. For further details, see the Pangolin Project Briefing Document

Specific research questions include the following:

  • What are the demographic profiles and characteristics of pangolin product consumers in Vietnam and what are the attitudes, motivations and preferences of key consumer groups?
  • What is the magnitude of illegal trade in pangolin products on the internet and via social media?
  • Implementing an actual intervention, what measurable impact has this intervention had on consumer demand for specific pangolin products?
  • What will be the effect of pangolin farming on demand and wild populations?

Collaborators: Thai Van Nguyen, Elizabeth Duthie, Ting Ming Lee, Carly Waterman

Collaborating organisations: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Fauna & Flora International, Sun-Yat Sen University, Zoological Society of London

Case Study 5: Illegal Jaguar Trade in Latin America: An Evidence-Based Approach to Support Conservation Actions

Researcher: Melissa Arias, Dr Amy Hinsley

Wildlife skin wallets from Latin America

Wallets made of jaguar and other wildlife skin, found in Bolivia

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:

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:

WT researcher_Jaguar trade in Latin America

Melissa Arias conducting jaguar trade data collection in Bolivia

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: Uncertainty in ranger-based monitoring of elephant poaching in Zimbabwe

Researcher: 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. Using the monitoring of the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE) as a case study, this case study seeks 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. This research combines 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. Statistical and mathematical modelling are employed to understand patterns in existing monitoring data at the case study site, and uncertainty and bias in the data collection process. Key-informant interviews with rangers, managers and higher-level policy makers are employed to understand the effect of human and organizational dynamics on MIKE implementation (particularly the degree to which MIKE data are used for local elephant management).

Collaborators: Rose Mandisodza, Nobesuthu Ngwenya, Blessing Kavhu; Professor Edson Gandiwa, Victor Muposhi

Collaborating organisations: Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority; Chinhoyi University of Technology

Case study 7: Tackling Small-Scale Illegal Hake Fishing in Chile

Researcher: Rodrigo Oyanedel

Illegal fishing is arguably the largest threat to the conservation of marine resources. Historically, compliance with fisheries regulation (i.e. by reducing illegal fishing) has been sought by governments through imposing sanctions to offenders primarily via enforcement programs and actions. However, there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of these programs because measuring and managing compliance is intrinsically complicated.

This case study will provide empirical estimates of the magnitude of illegal trade of hake in Chile. By measuring and understanding the drivers of illegal fishing, this case study will shed light on how to design interventions aimed at reducing illegal fishing. A baseline of current compliance levels will be obtained using mixed methods from the social sciences and upon which interventions will be evaluated. The results from this project will inform local and regional government agencies on how to address the prevalent illegality in this fishery.

Research questions include the following:

  • What is the magnitude of hake illegal trade in Chile?
  • What are the levels of compliance with the different regulations that govern the hake fishery?
  • What are fishers’ drivers to fish illegally?

Collaborator: Stefan Gelcich

Collaborating organisation: Universidad Catolica de Chile

We welcome opportunities for other collaborative studies to be integrated across different taxa and regions. Contact us to discuss.

Head to our Resources page for more outputs from our research and contact us to get any copies.