Community-led approaches to tackling illegal wildlife trade. Case studies from Latin America:

This compilation of case studies has been published in advance of the First Regional Conference on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife in Latin America held in Lima, Peru, on 3 and 4 October 2019. It highlights evidence from 15 countries across Latin America including Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, Guyana and Ecuador to name a few. The scale of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) internationally is a conservation crisis and tackling it is seen as a race against time. As a quarter of the world’s land is owned or managed by communities, they must be central to conservation efforts – and community engagement is already internationally recognized as important to the global effort to tackle IWT. However, because community engagement strategies are complex and take time to implement, not enough initiatives are being supported. This compilation of case studies seeks to address this problem.

The case studies show that there are plenty of examples of successful approaches to engaging communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade, and that there is a need for these to be scaled up and scaled out, learning from experience and adapting approaches to fit specific contexts and meet specific challenges. However, the core principles remain the same: a quarter of the world’s land is owned or managed by communities, and they need to be central not peripheral to conservation efforts. 



Who’s listening? Community voices on illegal wildlife trade:

Last month, leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean met for the first time to discuss the poaching and wildlife trade crisis in the region at the First High-Level Conference of the Americas on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). Commonly overlooked in discussions on IWT, the region is home to a number of species threatened by illegal trafficking, including jaguars, macaws and reptiles plus many timber species. This event stemmed from discussions at the 2018 IWT conference in London, the fourth in a series seeking to strengthen international efforts to tackle IWT. In addition, like other international policy forums, these conferences acknowledged the need to involve local communities who live alongside wildlife in efforts to combat IWT. Despite their commitments, countries have been slow to promote community-based approaches as a key part of their strategy to tackle illegal wildlife trade, favoring methods such as increased law enforcement instead. Nevertheless, local people are often best placed to protect the wildlife they live alongside. As such, this approach overlooks the essential role indigenous peoples and local communities play in fighting IWT.





We are allies, not enemies, in the fight against poaching and IWT. We are rights holders, not just stakeholders.

We are the people who feel the most direct impacts of IWT. IWT is stealing our resources, our wellbeing and our future.

Sustainable use is intrinsic to our cultures and livelihoods and is fundamental in reducing poaching and IWT. We want to strengthen our rights and our capacities to sustainably use and benefit from our wildlife in line with our customs and traditions. But we also want to find new opportunities to enhance benefits from wildlife to better meet our community needs.

Our traditional and local knowledge is a valuable resource for stopping poaching and managing wildlife sustainably.

We need to strengthen local governance based on traditional rights and obligations, and build networks and a collective voice among communities.

Law enforcement against IWT imposed on us is sometimes harsh and unfair. We can be powerful enforcers of laws when they are fair and inclusive, and based on consultation and respect for our traditions. Laws need to recognise our rights to use and benefit from wildlife, in line with international commitments.

Illegal trade is a crime against wildlife and a crime against us. Right now, the battle is being lost.

With us, working together, we can win. We call on governments and all partners here to recognise and respect our rights and our role in combating IWT.

*This declaration was agreed by 20 representatives of indigenous communities, of Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guyana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and Argentina, at a meeting held September 30 – October 2, organised by the National Agricultural University of La Molina (Lima, Peru), The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, the Peru National Protected Areas Service, the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, the International Institute for Environment and Development (London, UK), supported by USAID, TRAFFIC, and the UK IWT Challenge Fund.




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