Trafficking in apes and other endangered animals has encouraged numerous policy and strategic discussions among source and demand countries, donors, and conservation organizations, as can be seen in the declarations of recent international conferences on the illegal wildlife trade.
These deliberations have generated consensus on four key strategies for tackling the trade: reducing demand for illegal products, developing effective legal frameworks, strengthening law enforcement, and promoting community engagement. The latter three are particularly relevant to enhancing ape protection and limiting illegal hunting and trade at the start of the supply chain in ape range states.
When it comes to the illegal trade in apes, local people are typically active at the start of a supply chain, which can involve complex trade networks of hunters, dealers and traffickers. But their involvement is often opportunistic rather than organized, typically driven by factors such as poverty, cultural or economic incentives, resentment of perceived conservation injustices, or social, historical or political conditions. Approaches that recognize and respond to these context-specific driving forces are critical to reducing the trade at source.