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PhD Research

The international illegal wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing illegal industries. Wildlife trafficking threatens the survival of rapidly dwindling wildlife populations and their ecosystems. It can damage human health, erode good governance, and hinder economic development. One of the biggest obstacles to eradicating wildlife trafficking is an inadequate understanding of how these networks operate. New research has identified a growing convergence of international criminal networks. However, there is currently no consensus in the academic literature on the degree to which the illegal wildlife trade converges with other organised crime activities, or on the most effective mitigation measures.  My interdisciplinary doctoral research will fill in this critical knowledge gap by engaging expert wildlife law enforcement practitioners across sectors and jurisdictions. The findings of this research will help inform more equitable and effective anti-wildlife trafficking efforts.

 

Other Projects

Precarious Employment of Park Rangers

Park rangers are at the frontline of conservation efforts around the world. Rangers can have diverse roles and responsibilities, yet all work to ensure that wildlife and other natural resources are being protected. However, they often work in challenging and dangerous conditions with the threat of encountering armed intruders, dangerous wildlife, and contracting infectious diseases. In addition to the physical hazards of the job, there are severe psychological impacts that can be derived from receiving low and infrequent income, living in social isolation, and other factors. We intend to explore how precarious employment is conceptualised with regards to park rangers, the impacts of precarity on the mental and physical health of rangers, and what can be done to improve employment conditions of park rangers.

Image by Madiba.de African Inspiration

Poverty, Pandemics and Wildlife Crime

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global recession and mass unemployment. It has particularly affected rural economies of tropical low- and middle-income countries where biodiversity is concentrated, through reductions in trade and international tourism. As this is exacerbating poverty in these regions, it is important to examine the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime, so that conservationists and policymakers can better anticipate and respond to the impact of a pandemic on biodiversity. To that end, we explore the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime, and its relevance in the context of a global pandemic.

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Engaging Local Communities in Wildlife Law Enforcement

Wildlife crime in protected areas remains a major challenge to conservation. However, little is known about the role of local communities in providing information on illegal activities to help improve law enforcement efforts in protected areas. As part of my Masters thesis, and as an initial exploration of this complex topic, we aimed to understand the perceptions of law enforcement authorities working directly with local communities on the conditions under which local people provide information to park rangers, using Murchison Falls Protected Area in Uganda as a case study.

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Global Governance of Illegal Wildlife Trade

The global illegal trade in wildlife is facilitated by a number of shortcomings in how wildlife trade is governed around the world. Therefore, overcoming the shortcomings is crucial in order to limit the opportunities and loopholes that criminal networks are able to exploit. This project seeks to consider a series of gaps in the regulatory measures, policies, and legislation currently in place governing international illegal wildlife trade and to suggest solutions to overcome the challenges, including solutions that are specific to each stage of the illegal wildlife trade supply chain (source, transit, and destination states).

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COVID-19 Economic Response and Recovery

This project sought to answer the following question: What research evidence exists and what are the research gaps at global, regional, and national levels on interventions to protect jobs, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and formal/informal sector workers in socioeconomic response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic? Our findings were organized according to the 3 main categories of socioeconomic interventions—protecting jobs, enterprises, and workers—although the 3 are intertwined.

Picking Weeds