Wildlife Crime in Africa

Session 3

Ethical Standpoints:

To illustrate some of the ethical issues surrounding man's relationship to animals, I have selected this Master's paper by Behrens written in 2008 and submitted to the University of Witwatersrand. It discusses whether riutal slaughter has moral justification. Although quite long, it makes some interesting points and I recommend its study.

There is general consensus that there are three moral measuring sticks by which we define our values:


The study of theories of value is called axiology.

See the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a long but good summary of environmental ethics

What are the key drivers to wildlife depletion in Africa?

  • Human consumption for food and medicine/cosmetics
  • Fashion garments
  • Capture for entertainment and breeding - zoos, circus' and pets
  • Hunting safaris

Annual global value of trade estimated at £5 billion with 350 million wild animals and plants traded every year.

An example of how trade is controlled in host countries is the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 (key DEFRA source). The 2007 Customs seizures are here. CITES species are listed here.

CITES bans commercial trade of species in the greatest danger of extinction and strictly controls trade in many others through government licences. These controls apply to both live and dead animals and plants as well as anything that is made from them. In the UK, it is a criminal offence to import, export, advertise for sale, sell, or buy any species in any form if it is listed on Appendix I of CITES. The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment, a fine of £5,000, or both.

It is not an offence to merely be in possession of an endangered species item. There are also some exceptions to the law that apply to the sale of antique wildlife items.


Good BBC source - note the use of DNA sampling. Listen here to the BBC radio documentary. Search the pubications database at Traffic here - only for the truly committed.


The value of these primates - Guardian article


UK Borders Agency seizes African tortoises


WWF library on illegal wildlife trade
Traffic library
Operation Charm - products made from endangered species
One man's WebLog - perhaps useful for comparison
Carbon dating ivory - note the reason why this is valid
National Wildlife Crime Unit
UKELA Membership
UKELA Helpsite


Cooking bushmeat
Buying bushmeat
Cooking rats and farming
Africa in crisis and bushmeat
Connection between poaching and partial lifting of ban in ivory trade
Drought in Africa
Elephant carwash

Lesson Plan:

Short Presentation: Axiology with Reference to Wildlife Depletion
Discussion and quiet time for notes

Google Earth Demonstration - Discuss relevance to coursework
WebLog comparisons see here
WebLog peer review
Three groups to describe as many wildlife crime scenarios as possible - real or hypothetical
Plenary: reflect if knowledge developed through lectures is sufficient to match crime with response

Presentation: WildLaw
Handout: Guardian 11/2006

African Perspectives
The mighty elephant
The defecating gorilla

Video Lounge

CITES and COTES - review of previous weeks lecture on sources of law
Why does charcoal present a threat to wildlife?