Rangers and modellers collaborate to build and evaluate spatial models of African elephant poaching
    Globally, tens of thousands of wildlife rangers patrol wide areas and record evidence of poaching activity such as elephant carcasses and snares. Such data have significant potential to inform conservation, but patrols are non-random in space and time, so conclusions from raw patrol data may be biased. Here we model spatial patterns of elephant poaching based on detections of carcasses by ranger patrols in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe (201 carcasses, 2000–2017), using different methodological scenarios to correct for patrol bias. We follow a participatory modelling framework, using interviews with practitioners (rangers and managers) to help build and evaluate these models. We found that poaching patterns in the bias-corrected scenarios differed among themselves and from the uncorrected scenario. Practitioners interrogated the credibility of the predictions in each scenario and thus helped discern true poaching patterns from those explained by patrol bias. We uncovered proximity to water as the strongest driver of poaching, likely reflecting both poacher and elephant behaviour. Our results show that it is essential to account for observer bias before developing management actions (such as ranger patrol strategies) from raw observational data. We further demonstrate the value of combining multiple lines of evidence (statistical models and interview responses) for more robust inference in the face of uncertainty.
    Kuiper, T., Kavhu, B., Ngwenya, N.A., Mandisodza-Chikerema, R., Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2020. Rangers and modellers collaborate to build and evaluate spatial models of African elephant poaching. Biol. Conserv. 243, 108486.
    Published: May 2020 | Categories: Research Articles


    Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore.
    Unsustainable wildlife trade is a pervasive issue affecting wildlife globally. To address this issue, a plethora of demand reduction efforts have been carried out. These necessitate consumer research which provides crucial knowledge for designing and evaluating targeted interventions. We implemented a rigorous consumer survey on saiga (Saiga tatarica) horn use in Singapore, where usage is legal and widely sold. Saiga are Critically Endangered antelopes from Central Asia with horns (often marketed as ling yang) used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Few past studies have assessed saiga horn consumers. This work is the most extensive consumer research to date specifically characterising saiga horn consumers and usage. We conducted 2294 in-person surveys on saiga horn use with Chinese Singaporeans, employing neutral questioning approaches. We found 19% of individuals reported saiga horn as a product they choose most often for themselves and/or others when treating fever and/or heatiness (a TCM state of illness), indicating a minimum estimate of high-frequency usage, not including possible low-frequency users. Overall saiga users were most characterised as middle-aged Buddhists and Taoists. However, saiga users were found in a range of demographic groups. Women preferred saiga shavings (the more traditional form), while men preferred saiga cooling water (the more modern form). About 53% of individuals who used saiga horn themselves also bought it for someone else. Buyers for others were most likely to be female middle-aged Buddhists or Taoists. Key motivating reasons for usage were “it works” and “someone recommended it to me.” The top two reported recommenders were family and TCM shopkeepers. Saiga users were more likely than non-saiga users to perceive saiga as a common species in the wild. This research holds significance for interventions targeting saiga horn consumption within Singapore and throughout Asia, by identifying potential target audiences, product types, non-desirable alternatives, and motivations for use.
    H Doughty, D Veríssimo, R Tan, J Lee, R Carrasco, K Oliver, EJ Milner-Gulland (2019). Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore. PLOS ONE. 
    Published: May 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


    The Past, Present, and Future of Using Social Marketing to Conserve Biodiversity (Open Access)
    Since the establishment of social marketing as a discipline, it was clear that environmental sustainability would be part of its scope (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971). Yet, whereas the academic scope of the field was broadly defined, the origins of social marketing practice, which were heavily linked to the promotion of family planning, meant that the development of this practice-led field has been historically focused on public health. Since the beginning of the century, there have been important developments at the intersection of social marketing and environmental sustainability, particularly considering issues such as waste management, energy efficiency, or water conservation. One area that has had very limited attention in the social marketing literature has been biodiversity conservation, defined as the management of diversity of life on Earth with the aim of protecting species, ecosystems, and their interactions from excessive rates of extinction (Hunter & Gibbs, 2007). While this has often been constructed to be a topic that relates to wildlife as opposed to people, it is clear that all key threats to biodiversity are a result of human behavior and as such successful conservation strategies have to also be able to influence human decision-making (Schultz, 2011). It is thus unsurprising that conservationists are increasingly interested in social marketing (Veríssimo, 2013), and this issue of Social Marketing Quarterly aims to bring together these two fields to cross pollinate ideas and promote social marketing research in biodiversity conservation.
    Diogo Veríssimo. 2019. The Past, Present, and Future of Using Social Marketing to Conserve Biodiversity. Social Marketing Quarterly, Vol 25(1):3-8.
    Published: Apr 2019 | Categories: Research Articles


    The Seven Forms of Challenges in the Wildlife Trade (Open Access)
    Initiatives that aim to regulate the international wildlife trade must take into account its multiple and often complex dimensions in order to be effective. To do this, it is essential to understand the interactions between three of the key dimensions of the wildlife trade: (1) taxonomic unit, (2) geographic origin, and (3) product form and transformation. We propose a framework to provide a structured approach to defining the complexities of the wildlife trade, based on Rabinowitz’s seven forms of rarity. We demonstrate the complexities and how they apply to our framework using two contrasting examples: the trade in elephant ivory, and the horticultural orchid trade. Further we use the framework to map different traceability solutions. To be as efficient as possible, efforts to tackle the illegal and unsustainable utilisation of wildlife should take a more structured approach. This framework identifies challenges that current initiatives may face, how they may interact and provides a structure for designing future interventions.
    Roberts, D.L. and Hinsley, A. (2020) The seven forms of challenges in the wildlife trade Tropical Conservation Science. v13
    Published: Aug 2020 | 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


    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


    To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife
    The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. As legislation and law enforcement have been insufficient to protect many wildlife species, conservationists are increasingly focused on campaigns to help reduce demand for wildlife products. Social marketing is increasingly being used to support biodiversity conservation efforts, but the extent of its use has seldom been researched. Based on interviews with conservation practitioners, we assess the extent to which social marketing has been used in demand reduction campaign design. We do this by investigating the level to which demand reduction campaigns met the benchmarks defined by the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre. We focus on rhino horn and elephant ivory, two high-profile products in the illegal wildlife trade and in China and Vietnam given their role as key consumer countries. We also investigate how conservation practitioners view the opportunities and challenges of using social marketing in the context of reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products. Our findings highlight that there are substantial gaps between best practice in social marketing and current practices in the design of demand reduction campaigns. However, several elements of social marketing are widely utilized and a platform exists from which to build more comprehensive behavioral influence campaigns in future. In terms of future needs, practitioners highlighted the need for independent consumer research upon which to build target audience insights, a focus on broader audience segments beyond the product consumers, and the improvement of collaborations across institutions.
    Greenfield, S., & Veríssimo, D. (2018). To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn. Social Marketing Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500418813543
    Published: Nov 2018 | Categories: Research Articles


    To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn
    The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. As legislation and law enforcement have been insufficient to protect many wildlife species, conservationists are increasingly focused on campaigns to help reduce demand for wildlife products. Social marketing is increasingly being used to support biodiversity conservation efforts, but the extent of its use has seldom been researched. Based on interviews with conservation practitioners, we assess the extent to which social marketing has been used in demand reduction campaign design. We do this by investigating the level to which demand reduction campaigns met the benchmarks defined by the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre. We focus on rhino horn and elephant ivory, two high-profile products in the illegal wildlife trade and in China and Vietnam given their role as key consumer countries. We also investigate how conservation practitioners view the opportunities and challenges of using social marketing in the context of reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products. Our findings highlight that there are substantial gaps between best practice in social marketing and current practices in the design of demand reduction campaigns. However, several elements of social marketing are widely utilized and a platform exists from which to build more comprehensive behavioral influence campaigns in future. In terms of future needs, practitioners highlighted the need for independent consumer research upon which to build target audience insights, a focus on broader audience segments beyond the product consumers, and the improvement of collaborations across institutions.
    Greenfield S.J. & Veríssimo D. (2019). To what extent is social marketing used in demand reduction campaigns for illegal wildlife products? Social Marketing Quarterly, Vol 25 (1), 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500418813543
    Published: Nov 2018 | 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


    Understanding complex drivers of wildlife crime to design effective conservation interventions
    In conservation, understanding the drivers of behavior and developing robust interventions to promote behavioral change is challenging and requires a multi‐faceted approach. This is particularly true for efforts to address illegal wildlife use, where pervasive ‐ and sometimes simplistic ‐ narratives often obscure complex realities. In this paper, we apply a set of novel techniques in an integrated approach to investigate the drivers and prevalence of wildlife crime in communities surrounding two national parks in Uganda and predict the performance of potential interventions designed to tackle these crimes. Although poverty is often assumed to be a key driver of wildlife crime, we show that better off households, as well as those that suffer from human wildlife conflict and those that do not receive any benefits from the parks’ tourism revenue‐sharing, are more likely to be involved in certain types of wildlife crime, especially illegal hunting. The interventions predicted to have the greatest impact on reducing local participation in wildlife crime are those that aim to directly address the drivers including, mitigating damage caused by wildlife and generating financial benefits for park‐adjacent households. This study demonstrates the power of a triangulated approach in gaining insights into complex and hard‐to‐access behaviors, and highlights the importance of going beyond single‐driver narratives.
    Travers H., Archer L. J., Mwedde, G., Roe, D., Baker J., Plumptre A., Rwetsiba A., Milner‐Gulland E.J. 2019. Understanding complex drivers of wildlife crime to design effective conservation interventions. Conservation Biology.
    Published: Apr 2019 | 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


    Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China (Open Access)
    Overexploitation of wildlife for trade threatens taxa globally. Interest in demand‐side approaches to address this problem has grown but understanding of how consumer preferences shape demand remains limited. To quantify the role of consumer preferences for wild orchids in China's horticultural market, we used conjoint analysis to determine which attributes are preferred by orchid owners and nonowners in two socioeconomically contrasting areas of South China. Across all respondents, price was the most important attribute followed by flower color. While Xishuangbanna participants exhibited a slight preference for wild over cultivated plants, origin (wild/cultivated) was of minimal importance. We also measured awareness of orchid import regulations. Most did not recognize the CITES logo, and knowledge of import laws was significantly lower in Hong Kong than in Xishuangbanna. Our findings suggest that trade in wild ornamental orchids in South China is supply‐driven, and strengthened regulations might be effective in reducing overexploitation.
    Williams SJ, Gale SW, Hinsley A, Gao J, St. John FAV. Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China. Conservation Letters. 2018;11:e12569. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12569
    Published: May 2018 | 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


    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


    Wild assumptions? Questioning simplistic narratives about consumer preferences for wildlife products (Open Access)
    1. That wildlife consumers prefer wild products to farmed alternatives is a widely reported finding in the conservation literature. These reported preferences for wild products have been interpreted as evidence that farming and associated trade undermine conservation efforts. These conclusions have then been used to influence policy recommendations and the design of conservation interventions related to use of farming itself, as well as to underpin consumer behaviour change campaigns. 2. However, for many species and products, the wild versus farmed narrative is based on assumptions that over‐simplify consumer behaviour and can lead to conclusions that do not recognize the complexity of real wildlife markets. These assumptions include the notions that consumers of the same products have homogeneous preferences, that wild and farmed are the only distinct product types available, and that these preferences do not change over time. 3. We highlight the difficulty in linking stated preferences and real‐world behaviour, due to confounding factors. A consumer who typically prefers wild products may be deterred by factors such as legality, high prices or even simple availability. 4. We recommend that researchers embrace these complex markets rather than trying to simplify them, and clearly state the limitations of studies that try to make the connection between stated preferences and actual behaviour. This includes considering the full range of products available, what or who might influence the actual purchasing decision a consumer makes, and the diversity of people who may buy wildlife products. 5. Considering this complexity is likely to improve evidence‐based recommendations for the design of large‐scale conservation interventions and policy changes. This will ensure that these interventions are better able to reduce the negative impacts on biodiversity from illegal and unsustainable trade, and promote sustainable trade that can benefit both people and wildlife.
    Hinsley, A, 't Sas‐Rolfes, M. (2020) Wild assumptions? Questioning simplistic narratives about consumer preferences for wildlife products. People and Nature. 2: 972– 979
    Published: Jun 2020 | Categories: Research Articles


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