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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 294-306

Poverty, Pandemics, and Wildlife Crime

1 Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Canada
2 Department of Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida, USA
3 Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK

Correspondence Address:
Michelle Anagnostou
Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_193_20

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global recession and mass unemployment. Through reductions in trade and international tourism, the pandemic has particularly affected rural economies of tropical low- and middle-income countries where biodiversity is concentrated. As this adversity is exacerbating poverty in these regions, it is important to examine the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime in order to better anticipate and respond to the impact of the pandemic on biodiversity. To that end, we explore the relationship between poverty and wildlife crime, and its relevance in the context of a global pandemic. We examine literature from conservation, criminology, criminal justice, and social psychology to piece together how the various dimensions of poverty relate directly and indirectly to general criminal offending and the challenges this poses to conservation. We provide a theoretical framework and a road map for understanding how poverty alleviation relates to reduced wildlife crime through improved economic, human, socio-cultural, political, and protective capabilities. We also discuss the implications of this research for policy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. We conclude that multidimensional poverty and wildlife crime are intricately linked, and that initiatives to enhance each of the five dimensions can reduce the poverty-related risks of wildlife crime.

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