RUSI marked the launch of a landmark study giving the most detailed picture yet of the range of security threats posed by poaching and wildlife trafficking.
Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Security in Africa: Myths and Realities is a new RUSI Whitehall Paper that scrutinises common narratives on poaching and wildlife trafficking as threats to security.
A joint publication by RUSI and King’s College London’s Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-Human Sphere, the Whitehall Paper critically analyses four core narratives: poaching and wildlife trafficking as threats to human security, as drivers of conflict, as funders of terrorism, and as a focus for organised crime.
In doing so, it seeks to sort myth from reality, in an effort to clarify how poaching and wildlife trafficking, as much-cited threats to security, can most accurately be conceived.
Until now, a series of powerful narratives have dominated, often in the absence of detailed empirical research and analysis to back them up.
An in-depth study of these narratives is crucial to the efforts of those now rightly looking to respond not just to threat to endangered species, but also to the security and wellbeing of human beings.
The event was chaired by The Rt Hon William Hague, who provided his own insights based on a longstanding personal interest in tackling illegal wildlife trade.
The editors –Professor M L R Smith, head of War Studies at King’s College London and Cathy Haenlein, Research Fellow at RUSI – discussed the evolution of the project and some of the main findings. A selection of chapter authors then discussed their research, including vivid reports back from counter-poaching operations in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.