Online learning series helps practitioners engage communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade

Ever wanted to know how to engage communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade? IIED and partners are delivering seven online sessions to provide information on the application of the ‘Local Communities: First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade’ initiative.

News, 12 October 2020
Two elephants.

The global ivory trade fuels the poaching of elephants, like these in Amboseli National Park, Kenya (Photo: Neil Ransom via FlickrCC0 1.0)

IIED has partnered with the IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office (IUCN ESARO) and the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (IUCN SULi) to conduct virtual familiarisation and awareness raising on different approaches to engaging communities to tackle illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

The online series is designed to support wildlife conservation and management authorities in the East African Community partner states, as well as relevant non-governmental and community-based organisations in the region.

Sessions will focus on the application of the ‘Local Communities: First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade’ (FLoD) initiative, which aims to support designers and implementers of anti-IWT strategies and projects to effectively engage local communities as partners.

The FLoD initiative takes advantage of an iterative learning process to help local communities, project designers and implementers at site and landscape levels to understand the context-specific motivations and assumptions that underpin the activities (legal and illegal) of local communities.

The first two sessions were delivered online in September. Participants were introduced to the FLoD initiative, including an overview of the methodology and experiences of using FLoD in Kenya.

Participants were also introduced to the People not Poaching platform, which documents global case studies of community-based approaches to tackling IWT.

Welcoming participants to the first session, Aurelia Micko, environment office director of USAID Kenya and East Africa, said: “The journey to self-reliance begins with locally led development. The FLoD methodology will help us understand the motivations and assumptions that underpin local communities’ interactions with wildlife, and this understanding will help us to better engage communities in the efforts towards ending poaching and illegal wildlife trade.”

Speaking at the second session, IIED associate Holly Dublin, also a member of the IUCN SULi steering committee and IUCN ESARO senior adviser, said: “We found that many times anti-IWT interventions weren’t based on local realities. The FLoD tool helps to empower those communities, strengthen their voice and enhance collaboration while building trust.

"We’ve found that ultimately it will help the design of more effective interventions to combat IWT with the help of communities.”

The recordings and presentations from the first two sessions are available on the People not Poaching website. The remaining five sessions from October to early December will focus on deepening understanding of aspects of the FLoD methodology – and there is still time to sign up!

If you are interested in participating, and are working in the East African Community region, email IUCN’s Leo Niskanen ( The next session is on 15 October.

The series is supported by USAID Kenya and East Africa through the ‘Conserving Natural Capital and Enhancing Collaborative Management of Transboundary Resources (CONNECT)’ project, and will supplement the comprehensive training course on FLoD, which is currently under development with support from the BIOPAMA programme supported by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.


Olivia Wilson-Holt (, consultant researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group