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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 50:75-79 (2023)  -  DOI:

The militarization of conservation: a different perspective

Peter Corkeron*

Falmouth, MA 02540 USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Is the increased use in wildlife conservation of techniques derived from military and security services appropriate? One aspect of this issue that remains poorly considered is whether all actors engaged in conservation projects that have a security orientation are engaged primarily in conservation. Western intelligence agencies are known to have used non-government aid organizations (NGOs) as cover for clandestine operations. Does this happen in conservation? In one example, a previous US President expressed concern that ivory trafficking represented a national security threat to the USA, following a report claiming that ivory trafficking was funding terrorist networks in Africa. Coincident with this new reason for concern regarding elephant poaching, a US-based conservation NGO employed staff from US military intelligence to develop and run an intelligence fusion center with the Kenya Wildlife Service. After a few years, the head of the operation left the NGO and returned directly to her career in military intelligence. Without access to classified information, it is impossible to determine if this was coincidence. Analytical tools, including some developed by the intelligence community, could be used to better assess whether some conservation programs are cover for clandestine operations. In the meantime, conservation professionals need to consider the possibility that there could be serving officers of intelligence agencies inside conservation NGOs. In order to ensure the security of conservation workers and the acceptance of conservation programs worldwide, all national governments should offer unequivocal guarantees that conservation NGOs are not being used for covert intelligence operations.

KEY WORDS: Securitization · Human impact · International wildlife trafficking · Poaching · Covert operations

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Cite this article as: Corkeron P (2023) The militarization of conservation: a different perspective. Endang Species Res 50:75-79.

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