High-value natural resources: Linking wildlife conservation to international conflict, insecurity, and development concerns
The relationship between natural resources and conflict is well documented, except for wildlife. We discuss the role that wildlife can play in national and international security interests, including wildlife’s role in financing the activities of belligerent groups and catalyzing social conflict. We argue that, similar to the findings for other high-value natural resources, wildlife can have a powerful influence on violent conflicts and security interests, particularly in developing and weak states, where the earth’s biological resources are disproportionately found. We suggest that recognizing this relationship is important because it illuminates the gravity of the threat facing several charismatic species. The association also illuminates a neglected link between wildlife conservation and high-priority security and development policy concerns. We advocate that documenting and deconstructing the relationship between the wildlife trade and international crime, armed conflict, security, and development concerns within the context of our knowledge of other high-value natural resources has policy and management implications of great important in conservation practice.