Published Works

Deviant Behavior: Exploring the Motivations Associated with the Poaching and Trafficking of Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East

Abstract: Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade is the most direct threat to the persistence of Amur tigers. Despite the recognition that reducing poaching is necessary to prevent extinction, the motivations that drive this activity are not well understood. Understanding this behavior is the first critical step to implementing tangible policy solutions. This study utilizes ethnographic methods to gather empirical evidence about the motivations associated with the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. By conducting interviews with those directly involved in the illegal tiger trade, three main motivations are identified: status and impunity, poverty (both economic and cultural/traditional poverty), and human/tiger conflict. Economic factors, due to the value of tiger parts for traditional medicine in China, is by far the largest influence on poaching in Russia. It is facilitated and exacerbated by systemic structural inequalities between social classes, including unequal distribution of power and resources and embedded corruption.

Crime Science: Using crime script analysis to elucidate the details of Amur tiger poaching in the Russian Far East

Abstract: Poaching is the most direct threat to the persistence of Amur tigers. However, little empirical evidence exists about the modus operandi of the offenders associated with this wildlife crime. Crime science can aid conservation efforts by identifying the patterns and opportunity structures that facilitate poaching. By employing semi-structured interviews and participants observation with those directly involved in the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East (RFE), this article utilizes crime script analysis to break down this criminal event into a process of sequential acts. By using this framework, it is possible account for the decisions made and actions taken by offenders before, during and after a tiger poaching event, with the goal of identifying weak points in the chain of actions to develop targeted intervention strategies. Findings indicate poaching is facilitated by the ability to acquire a firearm, presence of roads that enable access to remote forest regions, availability of specific types of tools/equipment, including heat vision googles or a spotlight and a 4 × 4 car, and a culture that fosters corruption. This crime script analysis elucidates possible intervention points, which are discussed alongside each step in the poaching process.


Methodological Innovations: Uncovering the nuances of criminal motivations and modus operandi in the Russian Far East: A wildlife crime case study

Abstract: Wildlife crime is a relatively new line of inquiry for scholars of criminology; traditionally it has been the purview of conservation science. However, as conservation is fundamentally about changing human behavior, the value of a criminological perspective to understand both the theoretical underpinnings of wildlife crime commission and practical mitigation strategies is being increasingly recognized. Based on an ethnographic case study on the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East, this article reflects upon the use of criminological ethnographic methods to understand the complexity and subtleties of wildlife crime by directly interviewing the poachers, middlemen, buyers, and smugglers involved. The article seeks transparency on how qualitative methods can be successfully employed to engage in fieldwork with active criminals in peripheral settings.


National Geographic: Siberian tigers are being hunted at night for their body parts


The Conversation: ‘Tiger King’ and America’s captive tiger problem