Securing the support and good will of communities living near those species targeted by poachers is critically important. By building partnerships and networks it is possible to not only understand the dynamics on the ground faster, but also to grow the number of individuals tackling poaching at multiple levels.
Community crime prevention and community policing programs analyze the potential for changes or interventions in community infrastructure, education, or the physical environment in order to decrease the potential for wildlife crime activity. These strategies engage residents, visitors, faith-based organizations and other local actors in identifying the factors that either encourage or discourage community members to engage in poaching and related crimes.
Compensating those communities around wildlife areas for any losses caused by protected wildlife is a proven way to build support for anti-poaching efforts. Beyond avoiding retaliatory killings, compensation schemes encourage communities not to turn a blind eye to poaching activity in their area. The positive effects of improving community support and vigilance through human wildlife compensation schemes has been demonstrated by a number of entities including Indonesia’s Wildlife Crime Unit, Wild Team (Bangladesh) and WWF Thailand.
Having a flow of reliable intelligence information from wildlife areas is a critical aspect of successful anti-poaching efforts, especially in places with multiple surrounding local communities. A number of best practices have been developed based on the experiences of government agencies and NGOs and this is an area in which experts need to continue to share experiences.
In some areas, especially those with high poaching pressure, there is great risk in supplying anti-poaching information to authorities. Communities whose members are enabled to provide information anonymously show a higher level of engagement in providing valuable anti-poaching information. Implementing a local reporting hotline is a fast and low cost improvement that can be made with potential for high pay-off, as demonstrated by Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team in Cambodia. In addition to local hotlines, international tip networks such as WildLeaks and CrimeStoppers International should be promoted and utilized.