Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

Wild Life, Wild Livelihoods: involving communities in sustainable wildlife management and combating illegal wildlife trade

This report, co-authored by SULi, highlights key lessons from experience for engaging communities in combating unsustainable use and illegal wildlife trade, and sets out eight key insights to guide action.

Cover of Wild Life, Wild Livelihoods Photo: Wild Life, Wild Livelihoods

SULi, the IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office and IIED have worked together on this UNEP-sponsored report to review decades of experience on how unsustainable and illegal use and trade of wildlife can be effectively reduced through supporting and engaging local communities. This report proposes more action and stronger community voice on approaches to involve indigenous peoples and local communities in the fight against wildlife crime, including the illegal wildlife trade. 

New research shows that involving local people is critical to successful conservation. There has long been good evidence of the effectiveness of well-implemented community-based approaches, but there has been a widespread failure to do this, often due to a lack of political will to adopt them.

Current approaches to wildlife management often fail to take into account the needs and rights of local communities, which are fundamental to success.

Top-down protectionist approaches ('boots on the ground'), which have emerged in response to the militarization of poaching, are ineffective, can result in human rights abuses and can backfire.

The report outlines eight action points to improve the community-based approach, ranging from better incentives and developing a better understanding of local customs and traditions, to involving local leaders in decision-making.

It further outlines the opportunities and constraints for communities to participate in the various key international policy forums that influence wildlife management, and takes a critical look at the increasingly militarized top-down approach to combat illegal wildlife trade.

French and Spanish versions are coming soon!


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