Engaging communities to tackle illegal wildlife trade - lessons from Southeast Asia, South America and sub-Saharan Africa
The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a global conservation and development challenge, affecting many species of fauna and flora as well as the livelihoods of those dependent on wildlife. Since 2014, concerns over the rising threat of poaching to high-value species have led to a number of policy commitments to tackle IWT. These fall under four priorities: eradicating the market for illegal wildlife products; building effective legal frameworks; strengthening law enforcement and supporting sustainable livelihoods and economic development.
However, analysis undertaken between 2016-19 showed that the least progress had been made against commitments under the final category. In addition, community-focused projects were allocated less funding than protected area management and law enforcement approaches.
This is echoed in practice, with many governments focusing on top-down strategies and militarised conservation tactics to reduce IWT, but these approaches can alienate local people and often fail to address the factors that lead people to poach in the first place. In contrast, there is broad agreement that anti-IWT approaches should aim to empower and incentivise communities who live alongside wildlife to engage in conservation efforts. Without a blueprint approach to community-based interventions to tackle IWT there is uncertainty about how best to design and implement these projects. The People not Poaching platform (peoplenotpoaching.org) aims to fill this knowledge gap by building the evidence base of what works, what doesn’t work, and why in community-based approaches to reduce IWT.
Based on information collected on People not Poaching, plus three regional workshops with representatives from 12 case studies featured on the platform, this report presents evidence and key lessons from a diverse set of initiatives to show that there are many commonalities between the factors that have led to, or limited, success across case studies.