Engaging local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade: a synthesis of approaches and lessons for best practice
At numerous international policy forums, governments from a wide range of countries have made commitments to supporting community engagement as part of their efforts to tackling international illegal wildlife trade (IWT). Despite this, the major focus of anti‐IWT strategies to date has been on law enforcement. There is no blueprint approach to community engagement and thus uncertainty on the part of the designers and implementers of initiatives intended to tackle IWT as to how best to proceed.
In this paper we provide a synthesis of existing approaches to community engagement to tackle international IWT and review the evidence on their effectiveness. The synthesis illustrates the wide range of different community engagement approaches that have been utilized to date and could be explored by others. But it also highlights the lack of regular, robust monitoring of such initiatives. The dearth of evidence on effectiveness of community‐based strategies to tackle IWT may not be any worse than the evidence on effectiveness of other approaches. Nevertheless, it presents a major conceptual and technical barrier to the uptake of community engagement approaches as well as hampering efforts to encourage national governments to implement the commitments they made through the high‐level policy forums.