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Review on illegal wildlife trade suggests preventative measures


A literature review by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has provided suggestions for preventing illegal wildlife trade.

The review suggests that due to the failure of traditional regulatory and law enforcement options, complementary solutions need to be strengthened. These include a focus on: alternative livelihoods; working with indigenous communities and civil society organisations on wildlife monitoring; investigations, and prosecution; and collaborative law enforcement with government agencies.

The paper recommends significant targeted funding to fight corruption, improve transparency and strengthen government law enforcement capabilities as part of a post-Covid-19 recovery package.

CIDT Research Assistant Habiba Mohamed said: “According to the scholars Maher and Sollund, illegal wildlife trade involves the illegal capture, collection, hunting, poaching, trade and smuggling of endangered, protected wildlife, derivatives and or its products.

“Many scholars, as the literature review presents, agree that an estimated 75 per cent of newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic diseases, partly from illegally harvested and traded species.

“The SARS outbreak, for example, early in the millennium emerged from wet wildlife markets in China and subsequently spread worldwide caused by a zoonotic coronavirus. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the global Covid-19 pandemic are stark reminders of the global catastrophic impacts of trade in wildlife species.

“Unfortunately, this paper shows that many governments in the source countries, where the illegal poaching takes place, have enacted legislative frameworks but lack the capabilities to monitor and ensure compliance with existing regulations.”

The authors of the literature review believe that, in many cases, decision-makers and law enforcers do not perceive poaching or illegal trade in wildlife products as a priority crime to begin with.

They demonstrate that the situation in source countries is further exacerbated by systemic corruption and other social political and governance failures. They believe that significant focus must be on fighting and exposing corruption at all levels and for securing the necessary capabilities to combat poaching and subsequent trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products.

Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, the lead author of this literature review note and CIDT’s Team Lead on Climate, Forests, Agriculture and Wildlife said: “With the failure of traditional regulatory and law enforcement options, we’ve recommended some complementary solutions, which include working with communities on monitoring and livelihoods along with raising society’s awareness and advocacy at national, regional and international levels needs strengthening.”

For the past ten years, the CIDT has been working in partnership with civil society organisations in the Congo Basin to strengthen forest monitoring and law enforcement and to address some of the underlying governance drivers which perpetuate these crimes.

In 2018, the CIDT and partners began to explore the synergies with wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. As part of this effort, the Centre conducted a review of the literature on illegal wildlife trade, looking particularly at local, regional and global responses and tools to combat illegal wildlife trade and related crimes.

Read the CIDT’s brochure about the literature review.

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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