Between 2009 and 2016, nearly 600 park rangers were killed in the line of duty in Africa by men poaching elephant tusks and rhino horns. In Namibia, where poaching was seen as the only way some families could stay fed, the government instituted a program in the 1980s where they began to convert poachers into “game guards.” It was a novel idea, and as the program matured the government began forming community conservancies where communities were given the rights to the animals on their land in exchange for agreeing to look after them. Today the program is seen as a huge success with the populations of cheetahs, black rhinos, and elephants all increasing dramatically.
This is the sort of project that today’s guest, crime-fighting conservationist Jessica Graham, works on. Jessica spent the past ten years working first at the US State Department where she created an environmental crime program; and most recently at INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization. Jessica recently returned to the U.S. from France to start a consulting business focused on environmental and international security issues. She joins us to talk about the intersection of conservation and law enforcement work, and to share insights she has gained traveling to over 40 countries.