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Naro, E.M.; Maher, S.M.L.; Muntifering, J.R.; Eichenwald, A.J.; Clark, S.G., 2020. Syndicate recruitment, perceptions, and problem solving in Namibian rhinoceros protection. Biological Conservation 243 (108481): 1-9 -

Location: Africa - Southern Africa - Namibia
Subject: Conservation
Species: Black Rhino

Original text on this topic:
In the last decade, poaching of high-profile wildlife species has increased across Africa, particularly threatening the viability of rhinoceros populations. Protection efforts and anti-poaching measures have increased across the continent, but a lack of research on the motivations driving the recruitment of local people by poaching syndicates may limit successful law enforcement. We explore the societal drivers and personal motivations behind individuals' involvement in poaching syndicates in Namibia and how this process is perceived at different levels of decision-making. There was a general consensus across all informant populations that wildlife crime syndicates are divided into five tiers of engagement. Poachers, the lowest tier, are typically recruited by a second tier of local business people via a cycle of dependency and debt. Further, although anti-poaching efforts are generally aimed at apprehending individuals at the lowest tier, the dependency mechanism used by local recruiters supplies syndicates with a consistent source of recruits. We also identified a misalignment of perceptions between local people and socially distant conservation practitioners regarding the personal motivations and societal drivers of commercial poaching. We urge conservation practitioners to invest in developing a more contextual understanding of local perceptions and perspectives prior to establishing rhinoceros protection measures. Such contextual information is critical to ensuring that limited conservation resources are used effectively to achieve the greatest positive impact for both people and rhinoceros.

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