C3S represents a diverse combination of backgrounds and specialties, allowing us to borrow from each other’s disciplines and develop new approaches through collaboration. Ecological as well as criminological realities must shape prevention strategies, and we think these interventions have the potential to reduce the frequency of wildlife crime in specific situations.
Our approach is anchored in environmental criminology, which seeks to understand the criminal event itself and the context in which the crime occurs, rather than focusing on criminality and the underlying motivations of criminals. Rational choice theory posits that criminals experience a decision-making process aimed to benefit themselves and reduce risks; in other words, criminals commit crimes when opportunities arise.
Once detailed information is known about the criminal opportunity structure in a particular environment, crime scientists can manipulate these opportunities to prevent the criminal acts. Situational crime prevention (SCP) attempts to reduce future crime by changing these contextual elements which foster criminal activity. The mechanisms of SCP include increasing the effort the criminal must exert, increasing the risks the criminal must face, reducing the rewards of the effort, reducing provocations for criminal action, and removing excuses.
Given this approach, an understanding of the natural environment is paramount to develop and test SCP applications. While most of these natural elements are immutable, landscape features may be utilized and and land management schemes may be developed, in accordance with the five SCP mechanisms. For example, if patrol data indicate that certain stretches of road or river are frequently used by poachers to gain access to wildlife resources, interventions may be focused on these specific locations.