By Douglas Main
With no shortage of human-on-human misdeeds, criminologists haven't typically concerned themselves with crimes against wildlife and the environment. But with poaching raging out of control in several areas of the world, that may be changing."There is a growing sense of urgency about what's going on in the environment," Todd Clear, dean of Rutgers University's School of Criminal Justice, said here at a symposium Tuesday on wildlife crime.
A variety of new research projects highlighted during the conference show that poaching and crimes against wildlife do follow patterns seen in other areas of criminology, knowledge that could be used to prevent these misdeeds. Famed Rutgers criminologist Ronald Clarke called on biologists and criminologists to work together to fight poaching and other issues where illegal acts are committed against nature.
As with other crimes, poaching often takes place in certain hotspots where conditions are optimal. Rhinos and elephants, for example, are often shot near watering holes where they predictably return to drink — and the poaching of elephants and rhinos is at an all-time high in many areas. Poaching has already pushed rhinos to extinction in Vietnam, for example.
Andrew Lemieux, a scientist at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, has outfitted rangers in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park with GPS-enabled cameras that allow them to cheaply document signs of crimes such as poaching, setting animal snares or harvesting of firewood. The project, which began earlier this year, will help rangers know where to go to best prevent these illicit activities, he said during his presentation. More....