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Engaging communities to combat illegal wildlife trade: a theory of change

In recent years there has been a surge in illegal wildlife trade. Poaching of elephants and rhinos for ivory and horn has attracted the most attention, but the trade extends to many other species and commodities. This crisis has attracted funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly directed at increased law enforcement. Practitioners and policymakers increasingly recognise the need to engage communities that live alongside wildlife as key partners in the fight. Yet there is no straightforward and widely replicable model for effective community engagement — different approaches work or fail in different situations. Here, we present an evolving Theory of Change to help practitioners and policymakers think through what might work well — and why — under different conditions.

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The First Line of Defence (FLoD) initiative uses a theory of change approach to explore the design logic of programmes intended to engage communities in tackling the illegal wildlife trade (IWT). It compares and contrasts the logic and assumptions of the designers and implementers of such initiatives with that of the communities at which they are targeted, with a view to improving project design and therefore effectiveness in tackling IWT.

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First Line of Defence (FLoD)

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