Dismantling the poachernomics of the illegal wildlife trade

Enrico Di Minin, Michael ’t Sas-Rolfes, Jeanetta Selier, Maxi Louis, Corey J. A. Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Persistent poaching fuelled by demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn continues to threaten these species. Despite international trade restrictions operating since the 1970s, limiting poaching has remained a substantial challenge over the last decade. The poaching economy of such storable goods is driven by a combination of persistent consumer demand and market speculation, and enabled by weak governance, lack of adequate resources for species protection, and alienation of local people who pay the costs of living alongside these species. We argue that restricting the legal supply of such wildlife products has created ideal conditions for the poaching economy — ‘poachernomics’ — to thrive. Strategies that move toward empowering local communities with stronger property rights over wildlife and delivering more benefits to them, including via carefully regulated legal trade, are underused elements in the current fight against the onslaught of the international illegal wildlife trade.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109418
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date7 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Economics
  • Elephant ivory
  • Enforcement
  • Extinction
  • Illegal trade
  • Incentives
  • Markets
  • Organized crime
  • Poaching
  • Poverty
  • Rhino horn


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