Fighting for
the Wild

Leave Them Wild is an organization that specializes in the use of ethnographic methods to gather data and analyze wildlife crimes. Allison Skidmore, the founder, is a National Geographic Explorer. Her PhD research focused on the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. Data collection utilized qualitative methods, including interviews and observations, with those directly involved in tiger poaching—the poachers, buyers, middlemen and smugglers—to understand the details of this criminal act from the viewpoint of the offenders themselves. These novel research methods focused on the identification of pinch points in the crime commission sequence for a more nuanced understanding of criminal modus operandi, with the objective of highlighting intervention points that are most likely to disrupt the flow of illegal trade. Allison recently founded Leave Them Wild to provide consulting and training services for researchers interested in wildlife crime related problems.  With a focus on the successful utilization of theory and methods within the fields of ethnography and criminology, the goal of Leave Them Wild is to facilitate other researchers who want to gather data, analyze, and ultimately prevent wildlife crime. The illegal wildlife trade is highly contextual; however, these methods are applicable to most regions plagued by high instances of some form of wildlife crime coupled with a lack of information.