ICN theme 2020/21 workshop theme: Illegal wildlife trade and human-felid conflict: a framework for evaluating linkages in the big-cat trade.

Theme Leaders

Peter Coals (WildCRU) (peter.coals@zoo.ox.ac.uk), https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1735-5487

Melissa Arias (ICCS) (melissa.arias@zoo.ox.ac.uk)



skullsIIlegal trade is well-recognised as a cause of population decline in a number of species of large felids (Loveridge et al. 2010), especially for species of the genus Panthera, including tigers (P. tigris) (Goodrich et al. 2015), snow leopards (P. uncia) (McCarthy et al. 2017), and as an emerging threat to jaguars (P. onca) (Fraser 2018), lions (P. leo) (Everatt et al. 2019), and leopards (P. pardus) (EIA 2018). However, illegal trade is notoriously hard to monitor, especially in the species for which it is a recently emerging concern. Additional complexity is presented because for all big-cat species, trade is not the only cause of illegal killing that they face. Killing due to livestock depredation, and other forms of human-felid conflict is a common threat to most big cats, and has been recently suggested as a gateway to illegal trade (e.g. McCarthy et al. 2016; Knox et al. 2019; Coals et al. submitted).  Parts from individuals killed due human-felid conflict may supply the trade chain, or human-felid conflict may be used as a cover for trade-motivated hunting. However, to-date there exists no standardised framework for evaluating the linkage between human-felid conflict and illegal wildlife trade. Disentangling the contributions and feedbacks between various causes of killings is key for targeting successful species protection and conservation measures. Development of such a framework will be the overall goal of this workshop.   


Specific Aims

  • To discuss the evidence that currently exists on the linkages between different causes of big cat mortality, including retaliatory and commercial killing.
  • To share delegates’ experiences disentangling big-cat conflict and trade and addressing both issues, separately or together.
  • To consider scenarios under which trade in big-cat parts and human-felid conflict may be more or less likely to co-occur, to ultimately create a framework for evaluating the linkages between human-felid conflict and trade in big-cat body parts. 
  • To provide suggestions for potential interventions that integrate tackling human-felid conflict and illegal wildlife trade, culminating in a peer-reviewed publication.


Candidate Eligibility and Requirements:

  • This workshop is tailored to early career academics (MSc/MRes, PhD or post-doc) or conservation practitioners with knowledge on, or experiences in, the human-felid conflict and trade interface. The involvement of delegates with experience of non-felid species is also considered, however delegates should be aware that the output will primarily focus on felids.
  • Delegates will be expected to commit to attending fortnightly, 2-hour long, online workshops from September–December 2020 (note: more or less time may be needed depending on progress, and meetings may be conducted outside normal office hours to suit a range of participants), leading up to the in-person event in April 2021 (with all ICN participants – bursaries available for international applicants).
  • In preparation for and during the online workshops, delegates must be willing to: 1) engage with the literature on human-felid conflict and trade, 2) share their own experiences on the issues, 3) participate in scenario planning and evidence evaluation exercises, 4) formulate and write a collaborative peer-reviewed article.


Please contact Melissa Arias (melissa.arias@zoo.ox.ac.uk) with any questions or concerns regards this theme. 

To submit your application, please click on the link below, stating your interest in this theme.

Apply here by 12th August, 2020


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