Insights from the incarcerated: an assessment of the illicit supply chain in wildlife in South Africa
The new study, Insights from the Incarcerated: An assessment of the illicit supply chain in wildlife in South Africa, builds on earlier interviews with the same offenders to understand their motivations in engaging in wildlife crime. Almost three-quarters of the offenders had been imprisoned for rhino-related crimes, the remainder for abalone- and cycad-related offences. The offenders represented 49 unique court cases concluded between 2009 and 2019. The latest study examines how illegal wildlife products are sourced—ranging from diving at night for abalone, killing of rhinos and hacking off their horns, through to digging up cycad plants. Sometimes those employed as cycad diggers were not told and were unaware what they were doing was illegal. Poachers were almost all from marginalised communities with little access to alternative economic opportunities who often switched roles—from poaching to driving or concealing products as circumstances changed, displaying high levels of fluidity.