25 JULY 2014 • VOL 345 ISSUE 6195 377 SCIENCE
as luxury goods can draw extraordinary
prices. For example, high demand and reduced supply have contributed to record
prices in elephant and rhino products, with
ivory recently sold for $3000/kg and rhino
horn fetching $60,000 to $100,000/kg (1, 7).
As in the drug trade, such concentrations
of value promote a cascade of social consequences. Huge profits from trafficking luxury
wildlife goods have attracted guerilla groups
and crime syndicates worldwide. In Africa,
the Janjaweed, Lord’s Resistance Army, al-Shabab, and Boko Haram poach ivory and
rhino horn to fund terrorist attacks (7).
Conservationists have lamented the endangerment of species targeted by luxury
trades. Yet disciplines beyond conservation biology—such as political science, economics, and international law—must be
integrated with ecological perspectives to
understand and address feedbacks between
wildlife depletion and organized crime (8).
Conflict resulting from wildlife scarcity
is not always catalyzed by organized crime.
When governments lack the political will
or capacity to defend access to declining
wildlife, local stakeholders may take the job
into their own hands, sometimes resorting
to violence. These vigilante defense actions
often escalate into broader social unrest.
For example, lacking an effective central government since 1991, Somalia’s coast
guard ceased to defend the country’s exclusive economic zone. As foreign fishing
vessels proliferated in Somali waters, local
fishers seized offending boats and demanded
payment. As the number of foreign fishers
increased, violence escalated (9). Dozens of
boats are now ransomed annually by well-armed pirates (many supported by foreign
cartels), who long ago traded nets for heavy
weaponry. Pirates have justified their actions
as necessary to protect their sovereignty over
offshore fishing grounds (9).
This path from resource defense to
violent conflict, facilitated by weak gover-
nance, seems to be repeating itself in Benin,
Senegal, and Nigeria, which are all witness-
ing increasing rates of piracy. In the words
of a Senegalese fisherman, “in 10 years’ time
people will go fishing with guns…. We will
fight for fish at sea. If we cannot eat, what
do you expect us to do?” (10).
TOWARD INTEGRATED POLICY.
Initiatives like President Obama’s wildlife task
force, the International Consortium on
Combating Wildlife Crime, and the new UN
Office on Drug and Crime anti–wildlife trafficking program emphasize enforcement of
antipoaching and antitrafficking laws. Such
steps are useful but their reach is limited
because they target outcomes rather than
factors that underlie demand for wildlife.
Combating trafficking should only be one
part of integrative programs that consider
ecological, socioeconomic, and institutional
contexts in which wildlife conflict occurs
(see the chart).
Several models already exist for such
programs. At a global scale, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has
brought together academics, government
practitioners, and seasoned policy-makers.
The formation of a similarly inclusive and
far-reaching problem-based working group
is long overdue for addressing the global decline of wildlife.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
provides a multidisciplinary platform on
which such a working group could be built.
The new United for Wildlife collaboration,
led by the Duke of Cambridge, offers an organizational framework for integrating law
Fish stock decreases
Demand for foreign fsh increases
Foreign exploitation of local fsh stock increases
Local exploitation for export increases
Fish catch per unit efort decreases Efort increases
Fish stock decreases Fish catch per unit efort decreases Efort increases Cheap labor demand increases
Efort increases Food insecurity increases Income insecurity increases
Cost per unit efort decreases Poverty increases Child slavery increases
Ecology, conservation biology
Economics G l
Global and local drivers. The growth of child slavery in fisheries provides an example of the complex linkages between wildlife decline and social conflict, as well as the multidisciplinary insights necessary to inform policy. In practice, interdisciplinary engagement cannot be easily parsed among simplistic categories, and many perspectives inform each
step. Policy action must integrate disciplines to address feedbacks among failing fish stocks, weak governance, uncertain resource tenure, and pressure from international demand.
1Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and
Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720,
USA. 2Wildlife Health & Health Policy, Health and Ecosystems:
Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) Program, Wildlife Conservation
Society, Bronx, NY 10460, USA. 3Department of Ecology,
Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa
Barbara, CA 93106, USA. *Corresponding author. brashares@
“wildlife decline may
give rise to exploitative
labor practices, empower
profiteering groups who
use violence to control
illicit wildlife trades, and
promote vigilante resource