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


    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


    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


    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 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


    Breaking the deadlock on ivory
    Poaching for ivory has caused a steep decline in African elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations over the past decade. This crisis has fueled a contentious global debate over which ivory policy would best protect elephants: banning all ivory trade or enabling regulated trade to incentivize and fund elephant conservation. The deep-seated deadlock on ivory policy consumes valuable resources and creates an antagonistic environment among elephant conservationists. Successful solutions must begin by recognizing the different values that influence stakeholder cognitive frameworks of how actions lead to outcomes (“mental models”), and therefore their diverging positions on ivory trade.
    Duan Biggs, Matthew H. Holden, Alex Braczkowski, Carly N. Cook, E. J. Milner-Gulland, Jacob Phelps, Robert J. Scholes, Robert J. Smith, Fiona M. Underwood, Vanessa M. Adams, James Allan, Henry Brink, Rosie Cooney, Yufang Gao, Jon Hutton, Eve Macdonald-Madden, Martine Maron, Kent H. Redford, William J. Sutherland and Hugh P. Possingham. Breaking the deadlock on ivory. Science 358 (6369), 1378-1381. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5215
    Published: Dec 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns.
    There is a growing realization among conservationists that human behavior is the main driver of all key threats to biodiversity and the environment. This realization has led to an escalation of the efforts to influence human behavior toward the adoption of more sustainable alternatives, more recently through the use of social marketing theory and tools. However, these initiatives have traditionally suffered from a lack of robust impact evaluation, which limits not only accountability but also a practitioner's ability to learn and improve over time.
    Diogo Veríssimo, Annalisa Bianchessi, Alejandro Arrivillaga, Fel Ceasar Cadiz, Roquelito Mancao, Kevin Green. Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns. Social Marketing Quarterly.
    Published: Oct 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Assessing the extent of access and benefit sharing in the wildlife trade: lessons from horticultural orchids in Southeast Asia
    The equitable sharing of benefits from natural resources is a key target of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Trade in its native species is one way in which a country can potentially benefit from its natural resources, and even small-scale traders can now access global markets online. However, little is known about the extent of benefit sharing for many products, and the extent to which the appropriate processes and permits are being used.
    Amy Hinsley and David L. Roberts. (2017) Assessing the extent of access and benefit sharing in the wildlife trade: lessons from horticultural orchids in Southeast Asia. Environmental Conservation. Cambridge Core
    Published: Sep 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Attitudes to illegal behaviour and conservation in western Tanzania
    Natural resources in and around protected areas in many countries in Africa are under intense pressure as a result of illegal behaviour, such as fishing, hunting and logging. A better understanding of local people's perceptions of the nature of illegal behaviour and the relevance of conservation actions would be useful in informing conservation decisions. We gathered information on the attitudes and perceptions of communities in the vicinity of Ugalla Game Reserve in western Tanzania regarding illegal behaviour and the effectiveness of conservation practices, using household surveys, key informants, and focus groups. We found that local people use the Reserve illegally, especially for hunting (28 ± SE 6%) and logging (20 ± SE 5%). We explored behaviours that are problematic for conservation in the partially protected areas around Ugalla. Local communities reported feeling isolated, harassed and intimidated by approaches used to protect Ugalla. They were angered by the conservation of Ugalla as a trophy hunting site for foreigners, and the excessive force and beatings used by game rangers to keep them away from the Reserve. Improving local livelihoods (17%), participatory conservation (16%), and giving people land for agricultural activities (16%) were among the ways that local communities felt would reduce illegal activities. Our findings suggest the need for conservation measures to benefit local communities around Ugalla transparently and equitably. Outreach programmes would help to raise conservation awareness and attract positive attitudes towards conservation. To encourage local support for conservation, we also suggest that conservation authorities create and maintain good relations with people living near the Reserve.
    Wilfred, P., Milner-Gulland, E., & Travers, H. (2017). Attitudes to illegal behaviour and conservation in western Tanzania. Oryx, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0030605317000862
    Published: Sep 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Evaluating the Design of Behaviour Change Interventions: A Case Study of Rhino Horn in Vietnam
    Behavioral change interventions are increasingly widely used in conservation. Several projects addressing rhino horn consumption were recently launched in Vietnam. We used key informant interviews, document analysis, and marketing theory to explore their strategies for intervention design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. We developed a framework to evaluate whether they followed best practice and identify implementation challenges. Using best practice from other fields and considering demand reduction within the wider context of wildlife, trade policy will help address these challenges.
    Olmedo, A., Sharif, V. and Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2017), Evaluating the Design of Behavior Change Interventions: A Case Study of Rhino Horn in Vietnam. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12365
    Published: Aug 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Bycatch and illegal wildlife trade on the dark web
    The dark web has caught the attention of the conservation community because of the surge in interest in the illegal wildlife trade.
    Roberts, D., & Hernandez-Castro, J. (2017). Bycatch and illegal wildlife trade on the dark web. Oryx, 51(3), 393-394. doi:10.1017/S0030605317000679
    Published: Jun 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    FilteredWeb: A framework for the automated search-based discovery of blocked URLs
    Various methods have been proposed for creating and maintaining lists of potentially filtered URLs to allow for measurement of ongoing internet censorship around the world. Whilst testing a known resource for evidence of filtering can be relatively simple, given appropriate vantage points, discovering previously unknown filtered web resources remains an open challenge. Authors present a novel framework for automating the process of discovering filtered resources through the use of adaptive queries to well-known search engines. Implementation of this framework, applied to China as a case study, shows the approach is demonstrably effective at detecting significant numbers of previously unknown filtered web pages, making a significant contribution to the ongoing detection of internet filtering as it develops.
    Darer, A, Farnan, O and Wright, J et al., (2017). FilteredWeb: A framework for the automated search-based discovery of blocked URLs. 2017 Network Traffic Measurement and Analysis Conference (TMA). https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:6321b48a-9a84-4452-8e2b-9e0ccb59ff67
    Published: Apr 2017 | Categories: Research Articles


    Automatic detection of potentially illegal online sales of elephant ivory via data mining
    In this work, we developed an automated systemto detect potentially illegal elephant ivory items for sale on eBay. Two law enforcement experts, with specific knowledge of elephant ivory identification, manually classified items on sale in the Antiques section of eBay UK over an 8 week period.
    Hernandez-Castro J, Roberts DL. (2015) Automatic detection of potentially illegal online sales of elephant ivory via data mining. PeerJ Computer Science 1:e10
    Published: Jul 2015 | Categories: Research Articles


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