Conservation is at a critical juncture because of the increase in poaching which threatens key species. Poaching is a major public concern, as indicated by the rises in rhino and elephant poaching, the United for Wildlife Initiative and the London Declaration, signed by 46 countries in February 2014. This is accompanied by an increasing calls for a more forceful response, especially to tackle the involvement of organized crime in wildlife trafficking. However, there is a risk that this will be counter-productive. Further, such calls are based on a series of assumptions which are worthy of greater scrutiny. First, calls for militarization are based on the idea that poverty drives poaching. Yet, poaching and trafficking are changing because of the shifting dynamics of poverty in supply countries, coupled with changing patterns of wealth in consumer markets. Second, the ways increases in poaching are being linked to global security threats, notably from Al Shabaab are poorly evidenced and yet circulate in powerful policy circles. There is a risk that militarization will place more heavily armed rangers in the centre of some of the most complex regional conflicts in the world (such as the Horn of Africa and Central Africa/Sahel region).
Duffy, R., St John, F. A. V., Büscher, B., & Brockington, D. (2015). The militarization of anti-poaching: undermining long term goals? Environmental Conservation, 42(4), 345-348. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892915000119