Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click on 'Find out more' to see our Cookie statement.

Ahead of a symposium organised by the Oxford Martin School on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, and international IWT conference hosted in London this week, Diogo Veríssimo, from Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, reveals how campaigns have attempted to influence harmful consumer habits.

What do elephants, sharks and pangolins have in common? They are all threatened by the illegal trade, be it for their ivory teeth, fins or scales.

Around the world the use of animal and plant parts is increasingly being recognised as a threat not only to wildlife but also to people, as illegal or unregulated movement across vast regions can spread deadly diseases such as Ebola or SARS. While most work to curtail the illegal wildlife trade has focused on law enforcement and surveillance, there are increasing efforts to influence the consumers of these products.

Demand is a key part of any illegal market and while it exists it will be impossible to manage. Conservationists are therefore increasingly working to influence consumers by shifting their buying habits. Together with Anita Wan, currently at Sun Yat-sen University in China, we reviewed the data on this conservation approach, and the results were recently published in Conservation Biology.

 

Captive Macaw
Captive Macaw

Diogo Verissimo

We found 236 campaigns featuring well-known species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos but also lesser-thought-of turtles, tuna, rosewood timber, macaws and saiga antelopes. Surprisingly, the majority of campaigns were focused on seafood, with sharks being the most represented animal.

In addition, we found that at continental level, more than a third of campaigns were found in Asia. This is perhaps unsurprising given the significance of key consumer countries such as China or Vietnam. Less anticipated, however, was that the United States held the most campaigns at a national level. This could be explained by the fact that many conservation organisations working on this issue are based there.

One of the key challenges highlighted by this report was that little is known about many of these demand reduction campaigns. For example, we could not pinpoint what year 10% of them took place, and only one quarter of campaigns reported their outcomes.

These gaps in information are not unique for such campaigns, but they now form key priorities for researchers who are coming together next week in Evidence to Action: Research to Address the Illegal Wildlife Trade. This symposium will take place  at the Zoological Society of London on October 9, and is co-led by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford), in collaboration with several other UK Universities and NGOs.

These group of researchers and practitioners have also authored a policy brief that discusses the research gaps surrounding the illegal wildlife trade. This brief will feed into the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London, an international summit organised by the UK Government taking place on the 11 and 12 of October.

Find out more about the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference.

Similar stories

£100 million donation from Ineos to create new institute to fight antimicrobial resistance

Chemistry Funding Medical science Zoology

Ineos, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, and the University of Oxford are launching a new world-leading institute to combat the growing global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which currently causes an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths each year.

COVID-19 transmission chains in the UK accurately traced using genomic epidemiology

COVID-19 Research Zoology

A team of scientists, led by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, has analysed the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK and produced the most fine-scaled and comprehensive genomic analysis of transmission of any epidemic to date.

Cecil the lion’s legacy: five years on

Zoology

Lion numbers have disappeared from 92% of their historical range. The death of Cecil the lion in 2015 and the resulting global outcry brought this sobering fact into sharp focus.

Spotting elephants from space: a satellite revolution

Engineering Research Zoology

Using the highest resolution satellite imagery currently available, researchers at the University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Machine Learning Research Group have detected elephants from space with comparable accuracy to human detection capabilities.

Aliens (or at least intelligent ones) are rare

Research Zoology

In a collaboration between the Department of Zoology’s Mathematical Ecology Research Group and the Future of Humanity Institute, researchers created a mathematical model to simulate the likelihood of the emergence of intelligent observers.

Eight Oxford researchers, including five from MPLS, awarded major European Research Council funding

Chemistry Engineering Funding Plant sciences Zoology

European Research Council grants worth more than €16.3 million have been awarded to University of Oxford researchers for a range of cutting-edge projects.

Similar stories

£100 million donation from Ineos to create new institute to fight antimicrobial resistance

Chemistry Funding Medical science Zoology

Ineos, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, and the University of Oxford are launching a new world-leading institute to combat the growing global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which currently causes an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths each year.

COVID-19 transmission chains in the UK accurately traced using genomic epidemiology

COVID-19 Research Zoology

A team of scientists, led by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, has analysed the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK and produced the most fine-scaled and comprehensive genomic analysis of transmission of any epidemic to date.

Cecil the lion’s legacy: five years on

Zoology

Lion numbers have disappeared from 92% of their historical range. The death of Cecil the lion in 2015 and the resulting global outcry brought this sobering fact into sharp focus.

Spotting elephants from space: a satellite revolution

Engineering Research Zoology

Using the highest resolution satellite imagery currently available, researchers at the University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Machine Learning Research Group have detected elephants from space with comparable accuracy to human detection capabilities.

Aliens (or at least intelligent ones) are rare

Research Zoology

In a collaboration between the Department of Zoology’s Mathematical Ecology Research Group and the Future of Humanity Institute, researchers created a mathematical model to simulate the likelihood of the emergence of intelligent observers.

Eight Oxford researchers, including five from MPLS, awarded major European Research Council funding

Chemistry Engineering Funding Plant sciences Zoology

European Research Council grants worth more than €16.3 million have been awarded to University of Oxford researchers for a range of cutting-edge projects.