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Vol. 10 No. 1 | 2023 Edition

Violet Geinger

Wildlife Crime and Security

Tara Keir

It is important to analyze why the issue of wildlife crime as a security risk has been leaned into so heavily, even when the hard data to support the extent of such claims across all wildlife crime doesn’t necessarily exist. In her book Security and Conservation, Duffy argues that there are three main ways in which the illegal wildlife trade is articulated as a global security threat. First is the notion that poaching and trafficking undermine the rule of law, which therefore encourages corruption and contributes to instability in governance. Second is the argument that armed groups use illegal wildlife trafficking as a means of funding and growing their operations. And third, that wildlife crime is combined with other illicit trades as a source of funding for activities that threaten security, since criminal networks often tap into various illegal trades and activities to opportunistically source power and funding. 


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Tara Keir is a DC-based artist, conservationist, and creative storyteller with a dedicated passion for inspiring a thoughtful and in-depth approach to understanding and communicating the human side of wildlife crises around the globe. She is known for combining her unique watercolor and ink artwork with more traditional storytelling mediums to share conservation stories that resonate and challenge individuals to experience these stories through local perspectives. By stripping away projected morals and assumptions, she hopes to inspire a turning of the lens onto ourselves to understand the role we all play in the conservation issues at our doorstep, and also worlds away.

She became a National Geographic Explorer in 2019 when she was awarded with a NGS Storytelling Grant to investigate the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa. By combining storytelling, investigative journalism, artwork, and mapping, her final NGS grant project allows readers worlds away to understand Kruger National Park’s poaching crisis from a unique and important human perspective—through the amplified voices of local rangers and individuals living alongside rhino and experiencing the challenges and effects of the illicit trade in rhino horn firsthand.

Tara continues to create stories and artwork exploring our human connection to wildlife, the importance of coexistence, and inspiring us to think critically and creatively in conservation from an empathetic, solutions and impact-oriented human lens.

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