I am thrilled to be welcoming Dr. Helen Agu from the University of Nigeria Nsukka to my lab for the next year! Dr. Agu is an Early Career Female Science Visiting Scholar with the MSU Alliance for African Partnership and the African Futures Research Leadership Program. We will be working on the topicof women in wildlife trafficking. Helen brings expertise in environmental laws, climate change impacts on human migration, gender and justice. She is one of three scientists from her university joining MSU for this academic year.

Illegal wildlife trade and wildlife trafficking create risks to species and societies in which they occur. These environmental risks have implications beyond species extinction and animal welfare, although those risks can be substantial. Wildlife trafficking is associated with corruption, money laundering, degradation of the rule of law, national insecurity, spread of zoonotic disease, undercutting sustainable development investments, erosion of cultural resources and convergence with other serious crimes. Although wildlife trafficking is occurring in at least 120 countries around the world, Africa is home to many high-profile species, protected areas, and people involved in the global criminal economy. (e.g., pangolin scales to Asia; African gray parrots to Europe; cheetah cubs to the Middle East; African vulture brains from Cameroon to South Africa). Studying wildlife trafficking in Africa is underscored by the cross-border and transboundary nature of the crime, diversity of wildlife populations, and community-based management regimes. Perhaps in part because wildlife trafficking can involve multiple serious aspects of criminality, violence, and violations of  the rule of law, it is increasingly emphasized by decision-makers and donors as being worthy of interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral investment—including by the scientific and foreign affairs  communities. Unfortunately, the gendered dimensions of wildlife trafficking are unknown. We lack insight about the gendered costs and benefits of participating in wildlife trafficking interventions along each link of the supply chain. We do not know if thinking about gendered participation in interventions is necessary or sufficient for success. We do not know if gender differences signal different priorities or incentives to participate in efforts to reduce wildlife trafficking-related risks. We also lack insight about the nuances of gendered participation in poaching, trafficking, and selling illegal wildlife products, either directly, in supporting roles, or as managers. Thus, policies, programs and projects designed to reduce risks associated with wildlife trafficking may fail to achieve outcomes, be monitored and evaluated using accurate metrics, and promote the voice of local scientists during science-policy discourse.

Stay tuned as Dr. Agu and I collaborate to build new policy-relevant knowledge about this important dimension of wildlife trafficking!

Dr. Julie Viollaz highlights some of her recent fieldwork and its implications for conservation criminology!

http:// https://msutoday.msu.edu/360/2018/julie-viollaz-conservation-and-collegiality/

# wildlifecrime #conservationcriminology #conservationoptimism @CARNatMSU @msuresearch @julie_viollaz @Global_Wildlife @WWF @WWF_WLCrime @MSU_SCJ @ FaunaFloraInt @MSUFWClub



Please see the following flyer for this fall 2018 3-credit graduate-level online course and share with your networks. Apologies for cross-postings. Contact me with questions, comments, or enrollment instructions.


Increased globalization of illicit trade in natural resources endangers species survival, threatens the efficacy of sustainable development, deprives developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenue opportunities, and fuels sociopolitical conflict. The United Nations identified the pace, sophistication, and scale of illegal trafficking of natural resources as an international “environmental crime crisis.” Governments around the world have acknowledged environmental crimes (EC) undermine efforts in development assistance and threaten national security; policies and programs continue to be developed in order to reduce risks to the US, its allies, and collective interests from ECs. Calls have been made for risk a management response that strengthens and synchronizes actions targeting coherent policy and behavior change interventions. One strategy to address these global and national threats is to develop better understanding of the causes and consequences of human behavior that underlie EC activities. Conservation criminology is one such strategy.

In this 3-credit online graduate-level course, we will discuss the:

  • main actors and social systems driving ECs as well as working to reduce EC-related risks;
  • first, second, and in some cases third order effects of EC on human, species, and socio-ecological systems
  • diversity and overarching characteristics of efforts to reduce risks to humans, species, and socio-ecological systems;
  • dominant theories of change theories from risk, conservation, and criminology related to the causes and consequences of EC; and
  • challenges and opportunities for the road ahead.


By the end of the semester, students should be about the demonstrate the following:

  1. familiarity with the premise, ontology, and epistemology of conservation criminology;
  2. knowledge about the conservation criminology dimensions of contemporary ECs;
  3. critical evaluation of solutions for resolving EC-related risks using principles from class; and
  4. ability to robustly engage in interdisciplinary thinking, writing, and speaking with regards to the EC crisis

A huge proportion of the scientific and popular press coverage about wildlife poaching and smuggling focuses on regions outside the United States. Important to think about the problem at home as well. @wildlifesociety #conservationcrimionlogy #wildlifecrime

From Poaching to Smuggling[2]

Rachel Boratto, PhD student in @MSU_SCJ and I have published another report on the urban bushmeat supply chain in Republic of Congo as part of the broader @TheWCS project on the same topic supported by @USFWS and @USAID. #conservationcriminology and #conservationsocialscience helped add color to the bigger picture of the bushmeat supply chain’s physical and informational flows. @CANRatMSU @SCB_SSWG

The long planned collaboration between my conservation criminology lab, Vinh University, Global Wildlife Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Flora and Fauna International is getting off the ground! Dr. Julie Viollaz is leading the group from MSU, and was also recently named a GWC Associate. This project is going to be innovative on multiple levels and I’m so appreciative of Dr. Barney Long pulling us all together! I head to Vinh University for an extremely short but important trip; I’ll get to meet my collaborators in person (finally), introduce myself to the field research team, and hopefully conduct a site visit to one of our field sites.

Picture of a the face of a Ploughshare Tortoise

Wiley-Blackwell has published Conservation Criminology, the first edited volume on the topic of global risks, conservation, and criminology. This book reflects the efforts of amazing coauthors working on interdisciplinary environmental risk issues from around the world! What an honor to be able to collaborate with them!


It is a great honor to have my research fighting environmental crimes be part of the MSU Spartans Will Campaign.

I just returned from a super productive trip to eastern Madagascar where I had a chance to interact with amazing Malagasy conservationists working to reduce the causes and consequences of environmental crime! I spent two weeks working to better understand the conservation criminology-related issues surrounding rosewood logging and ploughshare tortoise poaching for pets. My trip was profiled by MSU Faculty Voices: Meredith L. Gore.


My work on human-wildlife interactions was recently featured on MSU Today.