Who We Are
Illegal and unsustainable trade in wildlife is currently one of the greatest threats to the survival of many species across the globe. It is among the largest and most profitable illicit activities in the world. The long and rapidly growing list of species being pushed to the brink of extinction is inexcusable on a planet where diversity is crucial to life.
While the plight of some wild animals is well documented, the disappearance of lesser-known species is going largely unnoticed. For these species, a lack of evidence and awareness continues to impede conservation efforts, enable illegal trade and undermine efforts to achieve sustainable use and trade.
Most often, lesser-known species are neglected by larger conservation initiatives. Monitor was established to focus on these species groups, thereby filling a crucial niche in the fight against illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. Through objective, evidence-based scientific research, we are dedicated to stopping the decline in species negatively impacted by trade.
In addition to filling crucial information gaps, we scrutinise the implementation and overall effectiveness of laws, conventions, policies and other tools regulating the wildlife trade and protecting species at both national and international levels. We publicise our findings and advocate for positive conservation measures to be put in place. We believe partnerships and long-term commitments are key to achieving our goals.
We believe we can make a difference.
We are a small but effective team, maximising conservation impact through the provision of data and other evidence to enforcement agencies and policy makers. By increasing understanding of the trade in wildlife, our work will have a positive and lasting impact on wildlife conservation efforts. In using evidence-based case studies, we greatly increase overall knowledge of trade routes and patterns used by traders and traffickers of wildlife, the individuals involved in international and national trade chains and key species in need of urgent conservation actions. Exposure and the publicity generated from results are expected to invoke action from the governments involved, encouraging them to implement the recommended changes. We produce and combine existing data to catalyse conservation actions from regional to global levels, enhancing legal protection and regulation policies, as well as driving behavioural change.
Chris R. Shepherd, Executive Director
Chris has spent over two decades in Southeast Asia, investigating, researching and motivating solutions to combat the illegal wildlife trade. He has worked on a range of species threatened by trade, including the Critically Endangered Ploughshare Tortoises of Madagascar, Sumatran Tigers in Indonesia, Asian Elephants in Myanmar and Sun Bears in Malaysia. Chris played a major role in catalysing many of the conservation interventions for newly emerging threats to Asia's wildlife, putting the spotlight on issues such as the massive illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles in Southeast Asia, the songbird trade crisis in Indonesia, and the laundering of wild-caught reptiles through bogus captive-breeding facilities from Asia to Europe and North America. Chris has a PhD from Oxford Brookes University and is an active member of many IUCN SSC specialist groups, and has published numerous papers on wildlife trade, and on solutions to mitigate trade as a threat.
Jordi Janssen, Programme Officer
Currently pursuing his PhD on the underlying dynamics and drivers of the live reptile trade, Jordi has over a decade of experience in reptile husbandry and keeping of reptiles in captivity. In the last few years, Jordi’s expertise in reptiles evolved into a focus on the trade in live reptiles and issues of fraudulent captive breeding. Bearing witness to the supply side of the reptile trade in Southeast Asia in combination with the extensive experience of keeping reptiles in captivity provides him a unique understanding and perspective of both the supply and demand of the live reptile trade. Jordi believes that because the majority of trade in wildlife is either very poorly documented, or not at all, the reality that trade is a threat for certain species may escape our attention, and by the time that realisation comes, it might be too late. He is a firm advocate for sharing information across institutional boundaries towards the common goal of saving species at risk.
Lalita Gomez, Programme Officer
Lalita specialises in field and online trade research and analysis, as well as legislative reviews with the aim of raising the profile of species exploited by illegal trade, supporting law enforcement actions and identifying measures needed to enhance protection for species. She assesses the impacts of illegal trade on a wide variety of species including bears, pangolins and serow exploited for the traditional medicine, marine turtles for their meat and shells, otters for the pet trade and lesser-known reptile and bird species. Lalita also has a decade of environmental consulting under her belt, managing and delivering environmental related projects such as environmental impact assessments, ecological studies, environmental management plans, enabling her to analyse and present wildlife trade data from an added technical perspective.
Boyd Leupen, Programme Officer
As a young adult, Boyd experienced the splendour and richness of the Malaysian wilderness as a traveller. The intense connection he felt with the rainforest sparked a desire to choose the path of conservation biology. Boyd embarked on his conservation career based in Southeast Asia, investigating wildlife trade dynamics of many different taxa and species groups. An avid birdwatcher, his primary focus currently is on bird-related trade issues. With birds continuously traded in enormous numbers around the world, his goal is to ensure that such trade is conducted in a sustainable matter, with respect for nature and local communities. Boyd’s academic background is in political science, providing a unique and important dimension to Monitor’s efforts to reduce the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. He strongly believes that in order to reach conservation goals, a multi-disciplinary approach must be applied, as the complexity of conservation issues demands the combination of academic and local knowledge and a profound understanding of political and social dynamics.
The External Directors bring experience and expertise, and opportunities for professional partnerships and more towards Monitor’s efforts in tackling the illegal and unsustainable trade in lesser-known, yet threatened spcies.
Vincent is a Professor in Anthropology and Postgraduate Research Tutor for Biological Anthropology, Primatology, Physical Geography and Archaeology at Oxford Brookes University, UK. A trained biologist, he leads the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group and is biodiversity consultant for many leading international NGOs in Asia, the Caribbean and Europe. For 12 years, he was a member of the CITES Scientific Authority of the Netherlands. Apart from facilitating research, together with his team, he disseminates results of ongoing research to a wide audience, liaises with NGOs and governments, participates in collaborative projects, and works to increase the quality of research and monitoring, with the ultimate aim of improving the regulation of the global wildlife trade to sustainable levels.
Phil leads the Invasion Science & Wildlife Ecology Group at The University of Adelaide. As a global change biologist, he brings critical analytical techniques to the study of applied ecology, wildlife conservation, and biosecurity risk management; areas characterised by complexity and uncertainty. He has published extensively on the conservation, transport and trade in animal species, leads a research intensive laboratory at the University of Adelaide and teaches extensively in ecological research and conservation research methods.
Sarah is keen for illegal wildlife trade to be examined from a criminal perspective and to be treated as a serious, transnational crime, and advocates for the greater use of intelligence analysis to tackle wildlife crime. She was professionally trained at UK’s Greater Manchester Police, working on serious and organised crime, including a Counter Terrorism Unit deployment. She developed an interest in conservation issues whilst working at the UK’s Wildlife Crime Unit in Scotland, which led her to an analytical position with TRAFFIC, based in Malaysia working on regional wildlife trade related issues. She currently leads the Intelligence Development Unit at the Wildlife Justice Commission.
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