About Us

Leave Them Wild is dedicated to raising awareness about wildlife trafficking issues and other modern conservation challenges. Wildlife crime is the taking, trading, exploiting or possessing of the world’s wild flora and fauna in contravention of national and international laws; it is a complex and growing global phenomenon that transcends national borders and can have serious consequences for wildlife conservation, animal welfare, national economies, security and governance. Leave Them Wild is a platform to raise awareness about wildlife poaching and trafficking that persists at unprecedented rates worldwide. The illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity, and the goal with Leave Them Wild is to both educate the public about this incessant threat to wildlife and to explain how the research of these issues can uncover tangible applicable solutions. Trade in illegal wildlife is highly profitable-as one of the largest illegal international trades it is valued only behind weapons and narcotics- estimated to net $20 billion annually. One of our goals with this website is to discuss how important it is to recognize the variability of wildlife crime- the illegal wildlife trade is not a singular phenomenon that requires a one-size-fits-all strategy to tackle it. A defining feature of this trade is its complexity and contextuality; the details influencing the poaching and trafficking of wildlife varies significantly between countries and species, as do the potential solutions.
With the specialized use in ethnographic field methods to insert into regions that are experiencing high instances of some form of wildlife crime coupled with a lack of information. By directly interviewing those associated with the poaching and trafficking of wildlife- the poachers, middlemen, smugglers, and buyers- we can obtain context-specific details about the criminal network and supply chain of the illegal wildlife trade occurring in a certain region. By first understanding the entirety of the supply chain, we can tease out the weak link in the chain and therefore make an educated decision about intervention points most likely to disrupt the flow of wildlife products. Although the species and countries vary, the methodology employed is applicable to most situations.

About Me

For those who know me, it is not a secret that I am an intense and passionate person and tend to be single-minded to the extreme. Fortunately, early in life, I found a direction to channel these personality traits into a purpose that is not just a career but is my raison d’être- the very reason I get up in the morning. My passion for wildlife has been the driving force in my life, it has shaped most of the decisions that I have made, from becoming a vegetarian at the age of 6 through to my current status as a National Geographic Explorer and earning a Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz. I have a whole range of experiences that have influenced me, but foremost among those is Africa; a dual love for wildlife and adventure took me to South Africa where I studied at the University of Cape Town and worked in Kruger National Park as a ranger. Originally, I was intent on being a traditional field biologist, and had to opportunity to study animals many only dream of- great white sharks, cheetahs, bears, wolves, lions. However, it was in the bush in South Africa where I discovered my true calling in life- putting an end to the poaching and trafficking of wildlife.

Modern conservation issues are complex because they are not just about animals; issues relating to wildlife conservation, like poaching, climate change and habitat loss, are inextricably rooted in human and social networks. In recognition of this I have diversified my formal education and training to include not just wildlife topics, but social studies as well (see below for a list of my education). As a wildlife criminologist I merge two distinct fields, conservation biology and criminology, to study, understand, and then find applied context-specific solutions to combat wildlife trafficking. I have worked on the live falcon trade, musk deer trade, lion bone trade, rhino horn and elephant ivory trade, as well as the captive tiger industry in the U.S. For the past two years, I have been working in the Russian Far East investigating the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers from Russia into China. There are less than 500 Amur tigers left, which are in high demand in China for use in traditional medicine. Time is running out for tigers and many other species. I have never questioned by calling or purpose to do what I can to end the wildlife trade. I want to be a catalyst for change and inspire leadership, cognition and action in a time of rapid environmental change. I not only work towards ending wildlife trafficking, but also all forms of animal exploitation. We are not owners of the planet, merely stewards, and it is our responsibility to take this role seriously.

Thank you for visiting,

Allison Skidmore

Read my CV here