Problem-Oriented Wildlife Protection: Adapting a Police Strategy to Prevent Wildlife Crime

April 13, 2021

Media Contact: Susie W. Sheppard,, 347-446-9904

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Panthera-Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement guide provides resources for wildlife authorities to prevent wildlife crimes

New York, NY - A newly published guide outlines how authorities can prevent wildlife crimes by adapting and utilizing problem-oriented policing (POP) - an approach that has been used successfully by police agencies around the world.

The guide, titled Problem-Oriented Wildlife Protection, was produced by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, in partnership with the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). Published by the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing in multiple languages, the publication was developed in response to an increase in the poaching and trafficking of wildlife for pets, food, ornaments and medicine, as well as increased conflict between wildlife and people as they compete for land and resources.

Problem-oriented policing was developed in 1979 to help police reduce crime without the need for substantial additional resources. This involves analyzing a particular crime problem in-depth to find its weak points, then tailoring interventions to address these. For example, ‘bushmeat poaching’ is too broad an issue to tackle effectively, but ‘snaring for bushmeat to generate income to plant tobacco’ points to a root cause that is easier to solve and show success.

Panthera Regional Counter-Wildlife Crime Coordinator for South and Southeast Asia, Dr. Rob Pickles, stated, “Problem-oriented policing offers wildlife authorities new ways to think about addressing old problems, with a switch in emphasis to preventing crime in the first place. POP can run alongside and support existing counter-wildlife crime strategies”.

A culturally-sensitive POP initiative, Panthera's Saving Spots project is a partnership with the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) of the Lozi People of western Zambia, Peace Parks Foundation and Cartier that provides highly realistic synthetic leopard, serval and lion ‘Heritage Furs’ to replace authentic furs used in traditional ceremonies. In reducing demand for authentic furs, this BRE-inspired initiative prevents the unsustainable harvesting of these threatened species while at the same time preserving rich cultural traditions underpinned by a deep reverence for wild cats.

POP encourages ground-up initiatives that work with a broad range of partners, often avoiding the criminal justice system altogether - a very different strategy than deterrence through detection and arrest.

The guide adapts this approach into a step-by-step process tailored to conservation efforts, showing how a wildlife authority can create a problem-solving team and a problem-oriented wildlife protection project. Demonstrating a record of success, a recent analysisadditionally revealed that crime and disorder were reduced by an average of 34 percent when POP was used to target specific crime problems in cities or neighborhoods.

Coordinator of the Wildlife Crime research theme at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Dr. Andrew Lemieux, stated, “Problem-solving has long been a part of conservation, and there are some great examples of wildlife authorities that have used innovative techniques to prevent wildlife crime. However, most of them did this intuitively rather than using a structured problem-solving cycle, and documentation of their experiences is rare.”

Lemieux continued, “To help understand ‘what works’ in wildlife crime prevention, this guide outlines a framework to produce case studies that link clear pre- and post-intervention effects to specific responses developed using a problem-oriented approach.”

Panthera’s conflict mitigation work in Central and South America is a good example of POP in action. Utilizing innovative and low-cost tools, including a collar fixed to cattle bearing two solar-powered flashing LED lights, a reflective strip and a bell, Panthera’s scientists are working to prevent jaguars and pumas from preying on livestock, ultimately avoiding the need for expensive predator translocation schemes and the risk of farmers killing predators in retaliation. The use of territorial San Martinero cattle that defend their herds from predators is another POP model implemented in the Llanos of Colombia.

Panthera Chief Scientist and Tiger Program Director, Dr. John Goodrich, stated, “The Problem-Oriented Policing guide gives wildlife officers a much bigger toolbox to reduce wildlife crime. This guide neatly lays out a detailed process that a wildlife authority could put in place relatively easily to get started on a problem-oriented project.”

Available in EnglishThaiIndonesian and Malay, the publication will soon be available in Spanish and French.

About Panthera
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards, tigers and the 33 small cat species and their vast landscapes. In 39 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours.