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New study draws links between wildlife loss and social conflicts
Date:7/24/2014

Citing many sobering examples of how wildlife loss leads to conflict among people around the world, a new article co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) Program Director Dr. Christopher Golden, calls for an interdisciplinary approach to tackle global biodiversity decline.

The harvest of wild animals directly supports about 15% of the world's people and provides protein for more than a billion of the world's poor. It should come as no surprise that today's unprecedented loss of wildlife, is bringing with it severe repercussions in terms of conflict and human tragedy around the world.

The article, led by Justin Brashares of UC Berkeley and involving a team of sociologists and ecologists, offers three examples in which declines can be linked to conflict;

1) Altered economic structure leading to exploitative labor practices. Wildlife declines can bring about a need for more labor to collect scarcer resources. The authors discuss examples of trafficking of children and adults to undertake forced labor under abusive, and sometimes deadly, circumstances.

2) The rise of profiteering groups that use violence to control wildlife resources. Guerilla groups and militarized crime syndicates are drawn to huge profits gained through the trafficking of illicit wildlife items. Terrorist groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army and Janjaweed are poaching ivory tusks from elephants and rhino horn to fund their activities.

3) Vigilante resource management that escalates into conflict. In circumstances where government lacks the will or capacity to protect declining wildlife resources, vigilante movements may arise. Such was the case when Somalis set out to defend their exclusive fishing rights. Ultimately, these movements evolved into more violent forms and gave way to today's pirate activity.

"Unsustainable human exploitation of wildlife populations does not have
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Contact: Scott Smith
ssmith@wcs.org
718-220-3698
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert

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