By Lenore Sobota
Generations of conservationists have battled to save endangered species. An Illinois State University professor thinks it’s time for criminologists to get more involved.
Jackie Schneider, chairwoman of the criminal justice sciences department, thinks many of the strategies that have been successful against theft and drug trafficking can work against poaching and illegal trade in endangered species.
Last month, Schneider made a presentation to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime on what she calls a “market reduction approach” to reduce poaching. Part of that approach is to view the illegally trafficked items, such as tiger pelts, as a “product” and to “try to understand why it is in demand, how it is harvested, what it costs and who gets the money,” she said.
Schneider, author of the 2012 book “Sold Into Extinction,” said it is important to “get a full picture of what is happening on the ground” and get information about what’s in demand and where the “product” is going.
Increasingly, high-tech criminology tools, such as DNA testing, are being used to identify the origin of illegally trafficked animal parts, she said, but often the best source of information — and best way to fight illegal trade — is in the communities near which the poaching and trade take place.
A lot of the countries in which the endangered species are taken illegally are very poor and the money obtained from poaching is very tempting, Schneider said.
“In addition to the enforcement side, you have to develop economic alternatives so they can make money by not killing them,” Schneider said. More....