I am very excited to head to the SASA (Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture) Headquarters near Edinburgh on Dec. 13th where I will be spending the day. SASA is home to the UK Wildlife DNA Forensics Laboratory that carries out wildlife DNA forensics analysis in support of law enforcement and other organisations involved in investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. In addition to learning about the work of the wildlife forensics lab, I will be giving a seminar that will be open to SASA with guests from the University of Edinburgh and broader conservation and law enforcement community. The seminar and discussion forms part of my knowledge exchange activities with the BIOSEC project. I will be discussing the on-the-ground realities of conservation law enforcement and wildlife crime investigation in Mozambique, which is one of the most important source and transit countries for the illegal wildlife trade. See the full seminar abstract below.
The Frontline of Conservation Law Enforcement in Mozambique: Realities, Challenges, & Looking Ahead
Francis Massé, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Sheffield
Since 2012 I have studied the rhino and elephant poaching economies of Mozambique and the efforts to disrupt them. Mozambique is an important source and transit country for the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and finds itself at the centre of efforts to address the illegal killing of rhinos and elephants within and across its borders. It is also one the poorest countries in the world. In this talk I describe the on-the-ground realities of anti-poaching and conservation law enforcement in Mozambique. Insights are based on over two years spent on the ground in the protected areas, villages, and towns at the heart of the poaching conflict. This includes 6 months of living with rangers and environmental police in a wildlife reserve located adjacent South Africa’s Kruger National Park and labelled as one of the most critical pieces of land on the planet for rhino conservation and protection. Drawing on my first-hand and ethnographic experience, I detail the day-to-day work of conservation law enforcement in one of the hardest hit areas of poaching. I highlight key challenges, their implications for addressing IWT, as well as recent and ongoing efforts to strengthen and support conservation law enforcement in the country. I draw on these insights to recommend areas where efforts to support conservation law enforcement might be directed.