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Behaviour change for demand reduction in the wildlife trade

Thomas-Walters, Laura (2021) Behaviour change for demand reduction in the wildlife trade. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87640) (KAR id:87640)


Demand for wildlife products is a key driver of the exploitation of wild populations of flora and fauna. Accordingly, there is an increasing focus on demand-side interventions, with the aim of reducing the market value of illegal wildlife products by influencing consumers to voluntarily change their purchasing behaviour. In this thesis I draw upon literature from different disciplines and both quantitative and qualitative data to take a broader view of behaviour change for demand reduction in the wildlife trade. I show that behaviour change is difficult to achieve, and interventions may have unintended and undesirable consequences because of unaddressed systemic, cultural and environmental drivers, and limited resourcing. To facilitate more nuanced approaches to demand reduction, such as the tailoring of interventions to the specific context in which they will be used, I develop a theoretical typology of the motivations for wildlife use and consumption. I identify five main motivational categories for wildlife use: experiential, social, functional, financial, and spiritual, each containing sub-categories.Robust impact evaluations are needed for conservation to learn and grow as a field, but conceptually linking project outcomes with conservation impacts remains difficult in complex systems. I assess both human behaviour and biological conservation outcomes following a social marketing campaign aimed at reducing the consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs on the island of São Tomé. I highlight the difficulties in conducting impact evaluations in the field, and discuss ways to address these challenges. Further, I examine the decline in demand for ivory products in to demonstrate the importance of understanding the cultural context in which interventions take place and show how theory-based impact evaluation methodologies can help establish causal attribution in cases where we lack baseline data. My thesis underlines the importance of formative market research to understand consumer motivations and develop effective messaging techniques, and the ability of alternative evaluation methods to reveal the mechanisms by which we can effect change.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Robert
Thesis advisor: Roberts, David
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87640
Uncontrolled keywords: Wildlife trade, impact evaluation, conservation social science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2021 12:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 May 2022 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Thomas-Walters, Laura.

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