Ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London (11-12 October) a unique interactive website is being launched today to foster learning and share experiences on community engagement in combating poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. “People Not Poaching: the Communities and IWT Learning Platform” will enable organisations and communities to share Illegal Wildlife Trade successes and lessons.
The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a key current conservation and development challenge. It threatens a wide range of wild species around the world while jeopardising local security and economies, undermining livelihood assets, and destabilising governance regimes.
Local communities have a key role to play in tackling IWT. “If they feel they benefit from wildlife – whether financially, culturally or in other ways – then they have a key incentive to conserve it and to prevent others from poaching it,” said Dilys Roe, principal researcher at IIED.
“Due to their physical proximity to wildlife, local communities are well placed to protect it. They can be the eyes and ears on the ground of formal law enforcement efforts – if the incentives are right.”
Crucially, however, communities lack a voice in discussions and are rarely consulted when IWT policies or programmes are being developed. Consequently, policies and programmes may not reflect local communities’ priorities and views, and anti-poaching initiatives will be less effective – or not effective at all – because of it.
The “People Not Poaching: the Communities and IWT Learning Platform” seeks to redress this situation. It is being launched by IUCN SSC SULi, IIED, and TRAFFIC to coincide with the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London on 11-12 October.
“Solutions to poaching and the IWT crisis must support and include indigenous peoples and local communities, must be grounded in local context and local evidence, and must be owned and driven by local people,” said Rosie Cooney, chair of IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy(CEESP)/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group.
There are lots of examples of communities taking action against IWT, but a key challenge is the limited extent to which lessons are learned from these examples and shared with others.
An invaluable resource in the fight against IWT, the learning platform provides a means for local communities and organisations to submit case studies of community-based initiatives being used to combat poaching and the IWT, providing a central point for people involved in community action against poaching to actively share information and explore the key ingredients for success.
These examples will provide valuable insights for all involved or interested in understanding the value of community involvement. They will also provide guidance in developing ‘best practice’ community-based anti-poaching and IWT initiatives, so that such efforts can be scaled up, with benefits to both wildlife and local communities.
The platform will provide a means of allowing the voices of communities (especially previously marginalised communities) to be heard in IWT policy forums, so that community perspective is taken into account in the planning of anti-IWT programmes.
SULi, IIED, and TRAFFIC invite you to contribute your community-based anti-poaching and IWT initiative to the platform, to share your successes and lessons learned with others.
To submit case studies, organisations or communities can complete a questionnaire that will generate a detailed case study for the website, including documents, photos, and links to related materials. Alternatively, initiatives may be submitted in the form of reports and other material that describe the initiative, community involvement, strategies, and outcomes.
The People Not Poaching: the Communities & IWT Learning Platform was funded by the UK government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and made possible by the generous support of the German government’s (BMU and BMZ) partnership against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, implemented by GIZ, and USAID, through the Wildlife Trafficking, Response, Assessment, and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project.
The IWT learning platform is a partnership between IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULI), IIED, and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.