n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Conservation crime causation - towards proactive compliance management

Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Over the last few decades the clarion call sounded by natural resource crime and criminality in South Africa has received, albeit leisurely, amplified attention from the political, societal and academic arenas. Notwithstanding this fact, it is far too often reactive achievements (policing statistics) that are used to articulate to the public at large that the various intervention initiatives and biodiversity management strategies employed by conservation stewardship organisations are viable and sustainable.

Reactive successes are regrettably a tacit reflection of the short-termism and inability of these very organisations to prevent natural resource exploitation and / or injudicious manipulation and its associated trauma, and to protect environmental assets from denigration - in essence an acknowledgement of proactive incapacity. Successful prosecutions and apprehensions demonstrate suitable diligence and competence, yet serve little purpose in the long term if the underlying dynamics and concatenation of conservation crime cannot be identified, comprehended and ultimately moderated or even eliminated.
Compliance management (law enforcement / regulation), in all its guises should be entrenched (or perhaps re-entrenched) as the cornerstone of the South African conservation crime management thrust, but with a decided bias towards identifying, anticipating and mitigating contributory and motivational factors (which will be expounded upon in this paper) in order to facilitate proactive intervention rather than merely reacting to crimes once they have been committed. In essence the management of compliance (proactive) as opposed to the management of non-compliance (reactive)!
It is with the above ideals in mind that this paper seeks to canvass and evaluate the motivational and contributory dynamics of conservation crime and criminality. By cutting across and synthesising criminological dogma a plausible causation archetype capable of adequately explicating the genesis of this form of deviance in South Africa is developed. The theoretical model presented in this treatise by no means purports to be a panoptic statement regarding the causation of this form of criminality, but simply serves to exemplify causal relationships between variables at an unmitigated level - functioning essentially as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Thereby providing a foundation for focussed and dedicated proactive intervention and acting as a catalyst for more directed research on the aetiology of this basically neglected aspect of natural resource perturbation.

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