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Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Security in Africa: Myths and Realities

Edited by Cathy Haenlein and M L R Smith
Whitehall Papers, 30 November 2016
Organised Crime, Organised Crime and Policing, Global Security Issues, Africa
A multidimensional approach is needed to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking and the security and environmental challenges that they have created.

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A worldwide surge in poaching and wildlife trafficking is threatening to decimate endangered species. This crisis also threatens the security of human beings in ways ignored until recently by decision-makers slow to treat what has typically been viewed as a ‘conservation issue’ as serious crime.

Over the past decade, as the scale and profitability of poaching and wildlife trafficking have grown, politicians, journalists and campaigners worldwide have begun to take notice, offering increasingly striking appraisals of the threat posed not only to endangered species but also to human populations. Many of these appraisals, however, are made without a detailed body of empirical research and analysis to underpin them. The result is the growth of a range of myths and misperceptions on the security threats posed, particularly as they relate to Africa.

Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Security in Africa – a joint publication from RUSI and King’s College London’s Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-Human Sphere – examines the most common narratives on poaching, wildlife trafficking and security. It critically analyses the dominant perceptions of poaching and wildlife trafficking as threats to human security, as drivers of conflict, as funders of terrorism and as revenue streams for organised crime. In doing so, it seeks to sort myth from reality, to clarify how poaching and wildlife trafficking, as much-cited threats to security, can most accurately be conceived. Such a study is crucial to the efforts of the range of actors now rightly looking
to respond to the threat posed not only to endangered species, but also to the security and wellbeing of human beings.

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Cathy Haenlein
Director, Organised Crime and Policing

Cathy Haenlein is Director of the Organised Crime and Policing research group and Senior Research Fellow at RUSI, with expertise in... read more

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