Mischaracterizing wildlife trade and its impacts may mislead policy processes (Open Access)
Overexploitation is a key driver of biodiversity loss but the relationship between the use and trade of species and conservation outcomes is not always straightforward. Accurately characterizing wildlife trade and understanding the impact it has on wildlife populations are therefore critical to evaluating the potential threat trade poses to species and informing local to international policy responses. However, a review of recent research that uses wildlife and trade-related databases to investigate these topics highlights three relatively widespread issues: (1) mischaracterization of the threat that trade poses to certain species or groups, (2) misinterpretation of wildlife trade data (and illegal trade data in particular), resulting in the mischaracterization of trade, and (3) misrepresentation of international policy processes and instruments. This is concerning because these studies may unwittingly misinform policymaking to the detriment of conservation, for example by undermining positive outcomes for species and people along wildlife supply chains. Moreover, these issues demonstrate flaws in the peer-review process. As wildlife trade articles published in peer-reviewed journals can be highly influential, we propose ways for authors, journal editors, database managers, and policymakers to identify, understand, and avoid these issues as we all work towards more sustainable futures.
Challender, D. W. S., Brockington, D., Hoffmann, M., Kolby, J. E., Massé, F., Natusch, D. J. D., Oldfield, T. E. E., Outhwaite, W., Sas-Rolfes, M., Conde, D., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. Mischaracterizing wildlife trade and its impacts may mislead policy processes. Conservation Letters. 2021;e12832. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12832
Published: Aug 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

A systematic survey of online trade: Trade in Saiga antelope horn on Russian-language websites (Open Access)
Trade in wildlife is increasingly moving online, which creates significant challenges for monitoring. Numerous reports have highlighted the extent of the trade but they rarely present a methodology to facilitate replication or any form of meta-analysis. Here we present a systematic approach to surveying online trade in wildlife that builds on the well-established systematic evidence review approach. We apply this approach to investigate the online trade in saiga antelope Saiga tatarica horns on Russian-language websites. Of the 419 advertisements, the majority (217, 52%) were from Ukraine, followed by Russia (122, 29%), and were largely offers to sell (254, 61%), and represented one-off advertisements. Trade was identified on 89 websites, with the majority being on classified ads websites (68, 76%), auction.violity.com being the most popular site (156, 37%). Prices varied significantly depending on the country and how the horn was being offered (i.e. by weight or length). It is clear that saiga horn is being traded over the internet, with Ukraine and Russia comprising c. 80% of advertisements on Russian-language websites. Individuals with single advertisements dominate, suggesting website fidelity, although website usage is country-specific, potentially reflecting domestic trade. This suggests country-specific interventions could be particularly effective. A systematic approach for investigating online wildlife trade provides a clear and transparent methodology, and, given data collection is resource-intensive, allows studies to be replicated so that trends.
Roberts, D., Mun, K., & Milner-Gulland, E. (2021). A systematic survey of online trade: Trade in Saiga antelope horn on Russian-language websites. Oryx, 1-8. doi:10.1017/S0030605320001313
Published: Apr 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Who eats wild meat? Profiling consumers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Open Access)
1. Overexploitation for consumption of meat from wild animals in urban centres currently threatens numerous species across the globe. Indiscriminate offtake to satisfy demand for wild meat affects a range of wildlife of conservation concern in Vietnam. It is essential to understand the consumption of wild meat in Vietnam in order to ensure it is not detrimental to wild species. 2. We apply the principles of target audience segmentation to a sample of 384 respondents who had consumed wild meat in the previous year in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We carried out a cluster analysis to divide wild meat consumers into subgroups considering demographic, behavioural and psychographic variables. 3. We found three consumer groups: Classic Consumers (older, less educated), Up‐and‐coming Professionals (younger, wealthier, more educated) and Students. Compared to Students, Classic Consumers and Up‐and‐coming Professionals were significantly more likely to have paid for their meal at wild meat restaurants and to have ordered a combination of wild meat and other types of food rather than other types of food only. 4. Classic Consumers match previous characterisations of wild meat consumers, but the other two groups should also be considered in demand reduction campaigns. As Students appear to have limited influence on restaurant/food choices in certain social contexts and less propensity to eat wild meat, Up‐and‐coming Professionals may be an important target group. 5. A wide variety of species are consumed in wild meat restaurants. Some, such as pangolins, are of conservation concern and were consumed by 5% of our respondents. This is potentially an unsustainable level of consumption. 6. Our study showcases an audience segmentation approach to understanding wildlife consumers and provides insights for behavioural interventions and further research to curtail demand for wild meat in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where it is of conservation concern.
Olmedo, A, Veríssimo, D, Challender, DWS, Dao, HTT, Milner‐Gulland, EJ. Who eats wild meat? Profiling consumers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. People Nat. 2021; 00: 1– 11. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10208
Published: Apr 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Uncovering prevalence of pangolin consumption using a technique for investigating sensitive behaviour (Open Access)
Pangolins have been exploited throughout history but evidence points to population declines across parts of their ranges since the 1960s, especially in Asia. This is the result of overexploitation for local use and international trade and trafficking of their derivatives. The prevalence of the consumption of pangolin products has been estimated for different localities in Viet Nam but, considering that national legislation prohibits the purchase of pangolin products, previous research has not accounted for the potential for biased responses. In this study, we treat pangolin consumption as a sensitive behaviour and estimate consumption prevalence of pangolin meat, scales and wine (a whole pangolin or pangolin parts or fluids soaked or mixed in rice wine) in Ho Chi Minh City using a specialized questioning method, the unmatched count technique. We also characterize the demographics of consumers. Our results suggest there is active consumption of all three pangolin products, with a best-estimate prevalence of 7% of a representative sample of Ho Chi Minh City residents for pangolin meat, 10% for scales and 6% for wine. Our prevalence estimates exceed estimates from direct questions, providing evidence for the sensitivity of pangolin consumption. We compared our analysis of consumer characteristics with existing profiles of pangolin consumers and found substantial differences, suggesting that consumption occurs among broader demographic groups than previously described. Our findings suggest that efforts to reduce demand for pangolin consumption in Viet Nam should focus on a broader range of consumers than previously identified.
Olmedo, A., Veríssimo, D., Milner-Gulland, E., Hinsley, A., Dao, H., & Challender, D. (2021). Uncovering prevalence of pangolin consumption using a technique for investigating sensitive behaviour. Oryx, 1-9. doi:10.1017/S0030605320001040
Published: Apr 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Evaluating a large-scale online behaviour change intervention aimed at wildlife product consumers in Singapore (Open Access)
Interventions to shift the behaviour of consumers using unsustainable wildlife products are key to threatened species conservation. Whether these interventions are effective is largely unknown due to a dearth of detailed evaluations. We previously conducted a country-level online behaviour change intervention targeting consumers of the Critically Endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) horn in Singapore. To evaluate intervention impact, we carried out in-person consumer surveys with >2,000 individuals pre- and post-intervention (2017 and 2019), and 93 in-person post-intervention surveys with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shopkeepers (2019). The proportion of self-reported high-usage saiga horn consumers in the target audience (Chinese Singaporean women aged 35–59) did not change significantly from pre- to post-intervention (24.4% versus 22.6%). However, post-intervention the target audience was significantly more likely than the non-target audience to accurately recall the intervention message and to report a decrease in saiga horn usage (4% versus 1% reported a behaviour change). Within the target audience, high-usage consumers were significantly more likely than lower-usage consumers to recall the message and report a behaviour change. Across respondents who reported a decrease in saiga horn usage, they cited the intervention message as a specific reason for their behaviour change significantly more than other reasons. Additionally, across all respondents, the belief that saiga is a common species in the wild decreased significantly from pre- to post-intervention. TCM shopkeepers, however, cited factors such as price and availability as the strongest influences on saiga horn sales. In sum, the intervention did significantly influence some consumers but the reduction of high-usage consumer frequency was not significant at the population level. We explore reasons for these findings, including competing consumer influences, characteristics of the intervention, and evaluation timing. This work suggests our intervention approach has potential, and exemplifies a multi-pronged in-person evaluation of an online wildlife trade consumer intervention.
Doughty H, Milner-Gulland EJ, Lee JSH, Oliver K, Carrasco LR, Veríssimo D (2021) Evaluating a large-scale online behaviour change intervention aimed at wildlife product consumers in Singapore. PLoS ONE 16(3): e0248144. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0248144
Published: Mar 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Complex interactions between commercial and noncommercial drivers of illegal trade for a threatened felid
Illegal trade and human‐wildlife conflict are two key drivers of biodiversity loss and are recognized as leading threats to large carnivores. Although human‐wildlife conflict involving jaguars (Panthera onca) has received significant attention in the past, less is known about traditional use or commercial trade in jaguar body parts, including their potential links with retaliatory killing. Understanding the drivers of jaguar killing, trade and consumption is necessary to develop appropriate jaguar conservation strategies, particularly as demand for jaguar products appears to be rising due to Chinese demand. We interviewed 1107 rural households in north‐western Bolivia, an area with an active history of human–jaguar conflict, which has also been at the epicentre of recent jaguar trade cases. We collected information on participants' experiences with jaguars, their jaguar killing, trading and consuming behaviours and potential drivers of these behaviours. We found that the relationships between local people and jaguars are complex and are driven largely by traditional practices, opportunism, human–jaguar conflict and market incentives from foreign and domestic demand, in the absence of law awareness and enforcement. Addressing jaguar trade and building human–jaguar coexistence will require a multifaceted approach that considers the multiple drivers of jaguar killing, trade and consumption, from foreign and local demand to human–jaguar conflict.
Arias, M., Hinsley, A., Nogales‐Ascarrunz, P., Carvajal‐Bacarreza, P.J., Negroes, N., Glikman, J.A. and Milner‐Gulland, E. (2021), Complex interactions between commercial and noncommercial drivers of illegal trade for a threatened felid. Anim. Conserv.. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12683
Published: Mar 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

“Saving Lives, Protecting Livelihoods, and Safeguarding Nature”: Risk-Based Wildlife Trade Policy for Sustainable Development Outcomes Post-COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge loss of life, and immense social and economic harm. Wildlife trade has become central to discourse on COVID-19, zoonotic pandemics, and related policy responses, which must focus on “saving lives, protecting livelihoods, and safeguarding nature.” Proposed policy responses have included extreme measures such as banning all use and trade of wildlife, or blanket measures for entire Classes. However, different trades pose varying degrees of risk for zoonotic pandemics, while some trades also play critical roles in delivering other key aspects of sustainable development, particularly related to poverty and hunger alleviation, decent work, responsible consumption and production, and life on land and below water. Here we describe how wildlife trade contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in diverse ways, with synergies and trade-offs within and between the SDGs. In doing so, we show that prohibitions could result in severe trade-offs against some SDGs, with limited benefits for public health via pandemic prevention. This complexity necessitates context-specific policies, with multi-sector decision-making that goes beyond simple top-down solutions. We encourage decision-makers to adopt a risk-based approach to wildlife trade policy post-COVID-19, with policies formulated via participatory, evidence-based approaches, which explicitly acknowledge uncertainty, complexity, and conflicting values across different components of the SDGs. This should help to ensure that future use and trade of wildlife is safe, environmentally sustainable and socially just.
Booth Hollie, Arias Melissa, Brittain Stephanie, Challender Daniel W. S., Khanyari Munib, Kuiper Timothy, Li Yuhan, Olmedo Alegria, Oyanedel Rodrigo, Pienkowski Thomas, Milner-Gulland E. J.. “Saving Lives, Protecting Livelihoods, and Safeguarding Nature”: Risk-Based Wildlife Trade Policy for Sustainable Development Outcomes Post-COVID-19. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9(99) 2021. DOI=10.3389/fevo.2021.639216. ISSN=2296-701X.
Published: Feb 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Investigating the risks of removing wild meat from global food systems (Open Access)
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought humanity’s strained relationship with nature into sharp focus, with calls for cessation of wild meat trade and consumption, to protect public health and biodiversity.1,2 However, the importance of wild meat for human nutrition, and its tele-couplings to other food production systems, mean that the complete removal of wild meat from diets and markets would represent a shock to global food systems.3, 4, 5, 6 The negative consequences of this shock deserve consideration in policy responses to COVID-19. We demonstrate that the sudden policy-induced loss of wild meat from food systems could have negative consequences for people and nature. Loss of wild meat from diets could lead to food insecurity, due to reduced protein and nutrition, and/or drive land-use change to replace lost nutrients with animal agriculture, which could increase biodiversity loss and emerging infectious disease risk. We estimate the magnitude of these consequences for 83 countries, and qualitatively explore how prohibitions might play out in 10 case study places. Results indicate that risks are greatest for food-insecure developing nations, where feasible, sustainable, and socially desirable wild meat alternatives are limited. Some developed nations would also face shocks, and while high-capacity food systems could more easily adapt, certain places and people would be disproportionately impacted. We urge decision-makers to consider potential unintended consequences of policy-induced shocks amidst COVID-19; and take holistic approach to wildlife trade interventions, which acknowledge the interconnectivity of global food systems and nature, and include safeguards for vulnerable people.
Hollie Booth, Michael Clark, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Kofi Amponsah-Mensah, André Pinassi Antunes, Stephanie Brittain, Luciana C. Castilho, João Vitor Campos-Silva, Pedro de Araujo Lima Constantino, Yuhan Li, Lessah Mandoloma, Lotanna Micah Nneji, Donald Midoko Iponga, Boyson Moyo, James McNamara, O. Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, Jianbin Shi, Cédric Thibaut Kamogne Tagne, Julia van Velden, David R. Williams, Investigating the risks of removing wild meat from global food systems, Current Biology, Volume 31, Issue 8, 2021, Pages 1788-1797.e3, ISSN 0960-9822, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.079.
Published: Feb 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Using theory and evidence to design behaviour change interventions for reducing unsustainable wildlife consumption (Open Access)
1. Efforts to shift unsustainable human behaviour are at the crux of many conservation interventions, particularly when addressing illegal or unsustainable wildlife trade. These efforts, often in the form of behaviour change interventions, have proven largely unable to counteract this pervasive issue, however, leading to calls for more robust intervention designs. 2. In behavioural science fields like public health, design processes that integrate human behaviour theory and evidence from data collection are often developed to ground behaviour change interventions within a strong understanding of the context, thus supporting interventions that are efficient and have a higher likelihood of success. 3. Here we detail the foundational process of designing an intervention around the use of a wildlife product by a particular group: Singaporean consumers of saiga horn (from the Critically Endangered Saiga tatarica). 4. We employ both qualitative and quantitative data, along with human behaviour theories and past literature on the study system, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the many influences driving this target audience to purchase saiga horn products. 5. We use this insight to identify the key influences to leverage in a behaviour change intervention: those that are both the most powerful and the most amenable to change. 6. This work provides a reproducible process which can be used by other intervention implementers, highlights the often complex intricacies of socially influenced behaviour, and demonstrates why a methodical understanding of these intricacies is invaluable when attempting to shift human behaviour for conservation goals.
Doughty, H, Oliver, K, Veríssimo, D, Lee, JSH, Milner‐Gulland, EJ. Using theory and evidence to design behaviour change interventions for reducing unsustainable wildlife consumption. People Nat. 2021; 3: 469– 483. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10189
Published: Feb 2021 | Categories: Research Articles

Implementing the Ballot Box Method to reduce social desirability bias when researching sensitive behaviours in conservation
Guidance on the design and implementation of the Ballot Box Method for indirect questioning on sensitive issues in conservation.
Arias, M., Hinsley, A., & Milner-Gulland, E. (2020, December 8). Implementing the Ballot Box Method to reduce social desirability bias when researching sensitive behaviours in conservation. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/t3evh
Published: Dec 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Editorial: Influencing consumer demand is vital for tackling the illegal wildlife trade (Open Access)
Consumer demand is an integral part of any market system, and the markets involving wildlife products are no exception ('t Sas-Rolfes et al., 2019). Tackling the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) for the benefit of biodiversity conservation requires understanding and influencing consumer demand (Veríssimo et al., 2020). While demand reduc-tion activities are increasing (Veríssimo & Wan, 2019), they remain poorly funded, with only 6% of the funds committed globally to re-duce IWT focused on consumer demand (World Bank Group, 2016). This lack of investment is also reflected in the knowledge base, with limited research focused on understanding the drivers of consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, and the existing knowledge focused largely on a few species of birds and mammals (Margulies et al., 2019). We hope the Consuming wildlife – managing demand for wildlife products special feature can showcase the different types of research needed to start filling this gap.
Veríssimo, D., 't Sas‐Rolfes, M. and Glikman, J.A. (2020), Influencing consumer demand is vital for tackling the illegal wildlife trade. People Nat, 2: 872-876.
Published: Dec 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine to strengthen conservation outcomes (Open Access)
1. Numerous treatments in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) involve the use of wildlife products, including some that utilize ingredients derived from endangered flora and fauna. Demand for such endangered wildlife products in TCM can threaten the survival of species and pose serious challenges for conservation. 2. Chinese medical practice is embedded in the cultural fabric of many societies in East and Southeast Asia, and remains an integral part of everyday life and knowledge. It is grounded in principles and theories that have grown over hundreds of years and differ substantially from those of mainstream allopathic biomedicine. 3. In order to address the threats posed by the medicinal consumption of endangered wildlife, conservation scientists and practitioners will benefit from a basic understanding of TCM. Such knowledge will enable conservationists to craft culturally nuanced solutions and to engage constructively with TCM stakeholders. However, conservationists typically lack familiarity with TCM as the incompatibility of many TCM concepts with those of the biomedical sciences poses a barrier to understanding. 4. In this paper, we examine the core theories and practices of TCM in order to make TCM more accessible to conservation scientists and practitioners. A better understanding of TCM will enable conservationists to deliver more effective and lasting conservation outcomes.
H Cheung, H Doughty, A Hinsley, E Hsu, TM Lee, EJ Milner-Gulland, H Possingham, D Biggs 2020. Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine to strengthen conservation outcomes. People and Nature.
Published: Nov 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Ranger perceptions of, and engagement with, monitoring of elephant poaching (Open Access)
1. Ranger‐based monitoring has enormous potential to inform conservation globally, with hundreds of thousands of rangers patrolling extensive areas and recording observations of illegal activities and biodiversity. Much quantitative research has demonstrated the pitfalls and potential of data collection by rangers, but little work has considered its human dimensions. Yet poor engagement with, and ownership of, monitoring by those undertaking it may compromise data quality and thereby limit evidence‐based conservation. 2. We interviewed rangers and supervisors involved in a programme for monitoring and managing elephant poaching in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. We assess the importance that rangers ascribed to data collection within their broader occupation, and their level of engagement with data management and use. 3. We found that rangers saw the collection of biodiversity data as a routine duty that helped guide patrol strategy. Reporting these data was perceived as a primary way of demonstrating fulfilled responsibilities to their supervisors. Rangers did not, however, engage actively with data management and use. Ranger sentiment was evenly divided between those who said feedback on how the data they collected were used would motivate more engaged data collection, and those who said they would continue collecting data regardless, out of duty. 4. Three elements of the occupational culture of rangers at our site—a strong sense of duty, deference to authority and knowing their defined responsibilities within the organizational hierarchy—were identified as key drivers of their engagement with monitoring. 5. Building on these findings, we develop a theory of change to develop more meaningful engagement of rangers with monitoring. We argue that more effective and sustainable monitoring can be achieved by building on existing ranger culture while also fostering rangers' appreciation of data collection and utilization. Addressing key challenges around ranger well‐being, and resource and capacity needs, is also essential.
Kuiper, T, Massé, F, Ngwenya, NA, Kavhu, B, Mandisodza‐Chikerema, RL, Milner‐Gulland, EJ. 2020 Ranger perceptions of, and engagement with, monitoring of elephant poaching. People Nat. ; 00: 1– 14
Published: Oct 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Theoretical analysis of a simple permit system for selling synthetic wildlife goods (Open Access)
We present an economic model of a market for wildlife products. We use it to study theoretically the potential impact on the poaching of wildlife animals if a legal market for synthetic wildlife products is created. We show that allowing for a legal trade in synthetic substitutes in general has two opposing effects on poaching level: a price effect that reduces poaching by lowering the revenue generated from poaching; and a laundering effect that encourages poaching by making it easier for poachers to sell their products. When demand for wildlife goods is inelastic, the price effect is bigger, while the laundering effect is smaller; hence, establishing a legal market for synthetic substitutes is more likely to reduce poaching when demand is less sensitive to price changes. Measures that make it more difficult for poachers to launder their products reduce the laundering effect and enhance the conservation value of producing synthetic substitutes.
Frederick Chen, Michael ’t Sas-Rolfes,2020 Theoretical analysis of a simple permit system for selling synthetic wildlife goods, Ecological Economics, Volume 180.
Published: Oct 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Moving Beyond Simple Descriptive Statistics in the Analysis of Online Wildlife Trade: An Example From Clustering and Ordination (Open Access)
Collecting data for reports on online wildlife trade is resource-intensive and time-consuming. Learning often focuses on the main item traded by each country only. However, online trade is increasing, providing potential to update the conversation from a national scale to a global scale. We demonstrate how hierarchical clustering can identify wildlife items that follow similar trading patterns. We also ordinate the clusters, and seek correlations between the clusters and global measures, such as Worldwide Governance Indicators. We primarily use a sample dataset from a published report of online traded wildlife, covering 16 countries and 31 taxa or product types. Clustering provided immediate insights, such as rhinos and pangolins were traded similarly to ivory and suspected ivory. Five out of eight clusters represented items predominately traded by one country. An ordination of these clusters, and representation of global measures on the ordination axis, show a strong correlation of the ‘Voice and accountability' score with the clusters. Consequently, from the ‘Voice and accountability' score of the United States, a country not included in our dataset, we inferred that it traded elephant items (not ivory) and owl items during 2014.
T Lee, DL Roberts 2020 Moving Beyond Simple Descriptive Statistics in the Analysis of Online Wildlife Trade: An Example From Clustering and Ordination Tropical Conservation Science Volume: 13
Published: Sep 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Strategic advertising of online news articles as an intervention to influence wildlife product consumers (Open Access)
Changing human behavior is essential for biodiversity conservation, but robust approaches for large scale change are needed. Concepts like repeat message exposure and social reinforcement, as well as mechanisms like online news coverage and targeted advertisements, are currently used by private and public sectors, and could prove powerful for conservation. Thus, to explore their potential in influencing wildlife consumption, we used online advertisements through Facebook, Google, and Outbrain, to promote news articles discussing the use of a Critically Endangered antelope (the Saiga tatarica) as a traditional Chinese medicine in Singapore. Our message, tailored to middle‐aged Chinese Singaporean women, framed saiga horn products as being no longer socially endorsed. Through advert performance and in‐depth analyses of Facebook user engagement, we assessed audience response. Our message pervaded Singapore's online media (e.g., our adverts were shown almost five million times; and the story ran on seven news outlets), and resulted in widespread desirable audience responses (e.g., 63% of Facebook users' engagements included identifiably positive features like calls for public action to reduce saiga horn consumption, anger at having unknowingly used a Critically Endangered species, and self‐pledges to no longer use it; only 13% of engagements included identifiably negative features). This work shows that targeted dissemination of online news articles can have promising results, and may have wide applicability to conservation.
Doughty, H, Wright, J, Veríssimo, D, Lee, JSH, Oliver, K, Milner‐Gulland, EJ. (2020) Strategic advertising of online news articles as an intervention to influence wildlife product consumers. Conservation Science and Practice. ; 2:e272.
Published: Sep 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Evaluating the application of scale frequency to estimate the size of pangolin scale seizures (Open Access)
All eight species of pangolin are principally threatened by overexploitation, both for international trafficking and local use. Much illegal trade involves scales, but there is an absence of robust conversion parameters for estimating the number of different pangolin species in given seizures. Such parameters are critical in order to accurately characterize pangolin trafficking and understand the magnitude and impact of exploitation on populations. In this study, we calculated the number of scales on 66 museum specimens representing all eight extant pangolin species from the genera Manis, Phataginus, and Smutsia, and developed a method for estimating the number of pangolins in given seizures of scales based on scale frequency. Our statistical analyses found significant variation in scale number in inter-species terms (ranging from 382 for Temminck's ground pangolin to 940 for the Philippine pangolin), and in intra-species terms, with substantial variation in the giant pangolin (509–664 scales) and minimal variation in the Chinese pangolin (527–581 scales). We discuss application of the developed sampling method in a real world context and critically appraise it against existing methods. The knowledge generated in this study should assist in understanding pangolin trafficking dynamics, though there remains a need for accurate conversion parameters for estimating the number of pangolins in illegal trade, especially for the Indian and African species.
Ullmann, T., Veríssimo, D., Challender, D.W.S, (2019) Evaluating the application of scale frequency to estimate the size of pangolin scale seizures, Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 20
Published: Sep 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Characteristics of, and uncertainties about, illegal jaguar trade in Belize and Guatemala
Recent reports of jaguar trade have emerged throughout Latin America, but, although trade is now considered a high-priority threat to jaguars, its characteristics remain largely unknown. We aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the status of jaguar trade in Mesoamerica, focusing on Belize and Guatemala. We used key-informant interviews to explore the pathways behind the jaguar trade chain, identify the characteristics and motivations of the actors involved, and investigate the drivers and enabling factors behind jaguar trade. We distinguished between concrete evidence and strong beliefs or assumptions, thereby highlighting key areas for conservation action and of uncertainty. Our results suggest that jaguar trade is present in Belize and Guatemala, although current examples suggest it is a domestically-focused and opportunistic activity, rather than an organized international trade. Key drivers included human-wildlife conflict, opportunistic hunting, Chinese demand, drug trafficking, migration, and tourism. The areas of higher uncertainty are the role of external actors and drivers, and of commercial motivations. The main legal and institutional challenges to address this threat include the lack of resources, ineffectiveness of law enforcement, animosities between communities and the government, corruption, outdated legal systems, missing evidence, the lack of mandate of wildlife authorities and safety concerns. Key priorities for conservation interventions and research to prevent jaguar trade from escalating in these countries are to invest in local communities living in proximity to jaguars, while also investigating the role of external actors in jaguar trade, which remained largely uncertain throughout this study.
Arias, M., Hinsley, A., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2020) Characteristics of, and uncertainties about, illegal jaguar trade in Belize and Guatemala, Biological Conservation, Volume 250
Published: Sep 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

Pangolins in global camera trap data: Implications for ecological monitoring (Open Access)
Despite being heavily exploited, pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae) have been subject to limited research, resulting in a lack of reliable population estimates and standardised survey methods for the eight extant species. Camera trapping represents a unique opportunity for broad-scale collaborative species monitoring due to its largely non-discriminatory nature, which creates considerable volumes of data on a relatively wide range of species. This has the potential to shed light on the ecology of rare, cryptic and understudied taxa, with implications for conservation decision-making. We undertook a global analysis of available pangolin data from camera trapping studies across their range in Africa and Asia. Our aims were (1) to assess the utility of existing camera trapping efforts as a method for monitoring pangolin populations, and (2) to gain insights into the distribution and ecology of pangolins. We analysed data collated from 103 camera trap surveys undertaken across 22 countries that fell within the range of seven of the eight pangolin species, which yielded more than half a million trap nights and 888 pangolin encounters. We ran occupancy analyses on three species (Sunda pangolin Manis javanica, white-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis and giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea). Detection probabilities varied with forest cover and levels of human influence for P. tricuspis, but were low (<0.05) for all species. Occupancy was associated with distance from rivers for M. javanica and S. gigantea, elevation for P. tricuspis and S. gigantea, forest cover for P. tricuspis and protected area status for M. javanica and P. tricuspis. We conclude that camera traps are suitable for the detection of pangolins and large-scale assessment of their distributions. However, the trapping effort required to monitor populations at any given study site using existing methods appears prohibitively high. This may change in the future should anticipated technological and methodological advances in camera trapping facilitate greater sampling efforts and/or higher probabilities of detection. In particular, targeted camera placement for pangolins is likely to make pangolin monitoring more feasible with moderate sampling efforts.
Khwaja, H. ..., Challender, DWS. (2019) Pangolins in global camera trap data: Implications for ecological monitoring, Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 20
Published: Aug 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

A scoping review of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns and evidence for its effectiveness (Open Access)
The use of celebrities in marketing campaigns is widespread globally, including in environmental conservation. Celebrity endorsements are pervasive, but there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. We conducted a review of celebrity‐endorsed environmental campaigns. We report on the extent to which celebrities have been used in these campaigns, whether evaluation of the endorsement has been conducted, and assess whether there is evidence that the celebrities achieved the objectives they set out to accomplish through their engagement. We searched the peer‐reviewed and grey literature in six languages from July 2018 to January 2019 and found 79 campaigns implemented in nine countries from 1976 to 2018. Two thirds of campaigns were implemented in China and reported in Chinese. Only four campaigns were evaluated, but none of the evaluations provided evidence of the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement. Evaluation focused instead on overall campaign outputs and outcomes. Claims of effectiveness were made, but the lack of measurable objectives, theory of change, outcome indicators, and critical evaluation renders it impossible to determine whether the outcomes achieved by the campaigns can be attributed to celebrity endorsement. It thus remains unclear whether celebrity endorsement can contribute to conservation efforts. It is essential for environmental practitioners and researchers to report the outcomes and lessons learned from celebrity endorsements to ensure that their future use in conservation marketing campaigns is evidence‐based, thereby improving conservation practice.
Olmedo, A., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Challender, D., Cugnière, L., Dao, H., Nguyen, L., Nuno, A., Potier, E., Ribadeneira, M., Thomas-Walters, Laura; Wan, Anita; Wang, Yifu; Veríssimo, Diogo. (2020) A scoping review of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns and evidence for its effectiveness. Conservation Science and Practice. ; 2:e261.
Published: Aug 2020 | Categories: Research Articles

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