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First line of defence? A review of evidence on the effectiveness of engaging communities to tackle illegal wildlife trade

Dilys Roe, Francesca Booker

Issue paper, 65 pages

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT), and particularly poaching of high value iconic species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers, is at the top of the international conservation agenda. Despite increasing recognition that engaging local communities in conservation efforts is a key component of strategies to tackle IWT, there is no 'one size fits all' approach. Based on a review of published literature, as well as case studies submitted to IIED’s Conservation Crime and Communities (CCC) database, this issue paper assesses evidence on the effectiveness of community engagement approaches. It highlights some encouraging success stories but, more significantly, demonstrates the paucity of the current evidence base and the urgent need for better documentation and analysis (of what works and what doesn't, where and why) if we are to scale up efforts to tackle IWT.

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Roe, D and Booker, F (2016) First line of defence? A review of evidence on the effectiveness of engaging communities to tackle illegal wildlife trade. IIED, London.
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Since mid-2014, IIED has co-organised a series of events to highlight the importance of local communities in efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade, and the impact of heavy-handed approaches to law enforcement on these communities and on their incentives to engage in conservation.

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