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Illegal tropical wildlife trade: Trends, Scale and Solutions

Laura Boeschoten, Even YM Leung, Pieter Zuidema

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6th July 2023. 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM (Room 1)


The symposium provides a full overview of the breadth of research on illegal wildlife trade, from the scale at which it takes place to innovative forensic tools helping to combat it.

Unsustainable illegal wildlife trade of animal and plant products causes great environmental damage and is a wicked conservation problem. Even though legislation is in place to prevent illegal trade in many species with conservation concerns, a high level of global illegal activity persists because of the rising demand for certain wildlife products. Illegal wildlife trade is of concern because it targets rare species, is associated with criminal networks and is notoriously difficult to contain. Combatting illegal trade requires an interdisciplinary perspective as by nature it spans through topics in conservation, ecology, economics, policy and social sciences. Some focal questions for wildlife trade research include understanding trade routes to aid enforcement, and determination of legality through species and provenance identification.

In this symposium we will present exciting results from tropical wildlife trade research including both animals and timber. Our speakers from diverse backgrounds of ecology, sociology as well as technology will provide a full and multi-disciplinary picture on the topic. We will cover the trends observed in wildlife trade and in tackling this, the scale of the problem and finish with possible solutions, including local stakeholder involvement and origin verification methods to verify trade claims along the chain of custody. Through this symposium, we aim to (1) present the complexity and urgency of illegal wildlife trade in conservation; (2) introduce an interdisciplinary perspective to the issue incorporating inputs from the scientific community and society; (3) suggest way-outs through forensic advancements as well as by engaging discussions between the audience. We are sure that it will be an interesting symposium for the wide ATBC audience, and it should be of interest to all those interested in the conservation of tropical ecosystems.

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