Resources & Climate

Successful Strategy on Fighting Wildlife Crime Hinges on Three Key Areas

in Program

This week, the White House released its National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The strategy hones in on three key priorities, including strengthening enforcement mechanisms, reducing the demand side of the challenge and strengthening partnership between public and private sector actors. The strategy is an important step to better manage the current wildlife poaching crisis, which has implications for global security. In executing this strategy, three areas will be key to a successful outcome:

1. Local buy-in and coordinated assistance

A better-coordinated approach by the US vis-a-vis poaching and wildlife crime is important, but the real force multiplier is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the gaps in capacity in the countries where the poaching and wildlife trafficking are taking place. To more fully understand the conditions on the ground and to listen to the local needs will make donor governments, capacity building multilateral organizations, the NGO community and even the private sector better prepared to cooperate and coordinate the assistance available. Venues for where this dialogue can take place are around the corner, including this week’s high-level meeting in London on the illegal wildlife trade.

2. Smart integration

As poaching and wildlife crime are being recognized as an integrated challenge spanning the conservation, development and security continuum, the response should be equally pragmatic, seeking solutions across these silos. New partnerships can and should emerge, and resources and know-how can be leveraged within and between governments as defense and homeland security departments, environmental ministries, aid organizations, law enforcement agencies and other organizations find uncharted common ground.

3. Appeal to enlightened self-interest of the private sector

Technological capacity building at national parks and security training for park rangers are important components of a broader solution to poaching and wildlife crime. As defense budgets are being cut and societal security capacity building ⎯ including technical equipment that protects land, sea and aerial borders, ports, roads, energy facilities and other economic infrastructures ⎯ is on the rise, the private high-technology sector is eager to enter new markets, particularly in emerging and developing parts of the world. By participating in pilot projects that are scalable and replicable, like Stimson’s pilot project at the Ngulia Rhino Sancatury, private technology companies can enter such markets.

Part of the technological solution to wildlife security includes sensors, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, command and control systems, and security technology education and training for park security officials. This type of technology is exactly what is needed to bolster border, port and infrastructure security and provide high-tech solutions for fighting crime throughout the emerging economic regions. Over the next few decades, the market for this infrastructure and societal security capacity is estimated to be at least $60 trillion, according to reports by McKinsey and others.”

To learn more about Stimson’s work on environmental crime and the connections to global security and development, please go to our newly launched website.


Photo by Sokwanele – Zimbabwe via flickr. The image was converted to grayscale.


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