The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Institute for International Development (IIED) are proud to launch the guidance and associated tools to implement the Local Communities: First Line of Defence against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FLoD) methodology. FLoD seeks to better understand the conditions for stronger engagement of local communities to combat illegal wildlife trade.
Combating the surge of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) devastating wildlife populations is an urgent global priority for conservation. The sudden and rapid escalation of IWT on the international agenda has been driven by a drastic increase in poaching of Africa’s iconic elephants and rhinoceroses and concerns for other already endangered taxa such as tigers and pangolins. The crisis has attracted over US$350 million in donor and government funding in recent years, primarily directed at increased enforcement.
The role of local communities in combating illegal wildlife trade is being increasingly recognised as central to effective anti-poaching strategies. While this is enshrined in a number of recent global policy statements and commitments, little guidance is available on how to effectively engage communities in practice.
“Local Communities: First Line of Defense against Illegal Wildlife Trade (FloD)” aims to help address this gap. Developed by IIED, IUCN,IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, and the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, the initiative is a multi-stakeholder action research approach designed for use by an independent team of local stakeholders and project designers or implementers working with communities.
So far, the initiative has entailed testing the methodology in three case study sites in Kenya: the Olderkesi Conservancy adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve; Kilitome Conservancy adjacent to Amboseli National Park, and Olkiramatian & Shompole Group Ranches. Additional scoping work and initial site visits conducted in Southern Africa have also helped to refine the methodology, which is now detailed in a guidance document and associated tools available in English, French and Portuguese.
Emerging lessons from the implementation of FLoD so far demonstrate that while it is essential to engage communities as partners in combating illegal wildlife trade, context is critical as even communities from similar cultural backgrounds have diverse sets of tangible and intangible incentives and costs that influence their behaviour. The FLoD initiative appears to be successful in teasing apart these differences, bringing out community voice, and identifying ways of improving interventions to combat illegal wildlife trade at the community level. This is useful guidance for conservation organizations, policy-makers and donors.
Informed by growing experience in the application of the methodology and lessons learnt from different contexts, implementing partners will continue to update and refine the FLoD process, and simplify it where possible.
The FLoD initiative is supported by the UK Government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, Big Life Foundation, Cottars’ Safari Service, Southern Rift Association of Landowners, WWF in Namibia and WWF South Africa.