Reducing Demand for Wildlife Products: What We Have Learned from USAID Activities

To improve biodiversity program effectiveness at USAID, the Combating Wildlife Trafficking (CWT) Learning Group developed a learning agenda in 2016 and has since conducted a program of peer to peer learning and events focused on several key learning questions.

This includes the guiding question: What does effective demand reduction look like? The sub-questions that guide this learning agenda are:

  • What is the effect of reducing supply of illegal wildlife products as a consumer demand reduction strategy?
  • What are the most appropriate metrics and methodologies for monitoring demand reduction activities, especially the link between attitudes and behavior change?
  • Are certain messaging strategies more effective than others (i.e., positive messaging, messaging with enforcement information, etc.)?

Combating Wildlife Trafficking Learning Agenda

The Combating Wildlife Trafficking theory of change, with the demand reduction strategic approach and intermediate results highlighted.

Based on the CWT theory of change, efforts to reduce consumer demand through behavior change methodologies are expected to result in target audiences responding to messages and exhibiting the desired behavior change. As more people adopt the behavior change, this changes social norms within the broader population. These results should lead to reduced purchases of the targeted illegal wildlife products. The learning questions help to assess and fill gaps and assumptions in this theory of change.

Here, the CWT learning group’s findings and resources related to demand reduction strategies are summarized for easy reference, organized by learning question:

What are the best metrics and methodologies for monitoring demand reduction?

We learned that metrics should be tailored to the target audience and the context, and measure both campaign reach and message effectives as well as changes in the target audience’s  self-reported attitudes and behaviors. For this reason, common metrics used in USAID activities vary. Examples include:

USAID Wildlife Asia uses social and behavior change communication methods to create campaigns, such as "A Good Life is Free of Killing" that features carefully chosen influencers and targets consumers driven by spiritual beliefs.

Are certain messaging strategies more effective than others?

We found that understanding audiences and their motivations is essential.

We learned that long-term strategies are more likely to be successful. Activities should build local capacity and ownership to increase campaign longevity.

And creative strategies—such as using different media types, viral advertising, and influencers—may reach new consumers. 

Testing and adapting messaging prior to campaign rollout improves messaging and reduces risk.


Social and Behavior Change Communication Guidebook
Combating Wildlife Trafficking Learning Exchange: Meeting Report
Combating Wildlife Trafficking Learning Exchange: Demand Reduction Posters
USAID Water and Development Technical Brief: Social and Behavior Change for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene
Webinar: Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Wildlife Crime in Mozambique Presentation
Webinar: Reducing Consumer Demand for Elephant Ivory and Tiger Parts and Products
Webinar: CWT Digital Deterrence Campaign In Thailand
Webinar: Demand Reduction and COVID-19 Response
Webinar: Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network Webinar