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Evaluating UK support to countering the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Southern Africa

Itad is evaluating the UK government funded Counter Illegal Wildlife Trade Range Training Programme in Malawi and Zambia to assess its sustainability and overall impact.


The illegal wildlife trade is a widespread and lucrative criminal activity causing major environmental and social harm globally, with an estimated value of up to £17 billion a year. Nearly 6,000 different species of fauna and flora are impacted, with almost every country in the world playing a role in the illicit trade.

Rangers are a key component in helping protect species in their natural habitats from the threat of poaching. However, meeting the fundamental needs around enforcement and enforcement capacity is a significant limiting factor.

The UK is a long-standing global leader in efforts to eradicate the trade and is a respected convener and advocate on the issue. Since 2015, the UK Government has provided funding the Counter Illegal Wildlife Trade (CIWT) Ranger Training programme in Gabon, Malawi and Zambia.

The CIWT has provided support for local rangers in intelligence mapping, interception tracking tactics, medical skills, operations management and establishing an information network between protected areas.

We are independently evaluation the CIWT Ranger Training Programme activities in Malawi and Zambia between 2018 and 2022. Our evaluation will assess the extent to which the CIWT Ranger Training programme has achieved its outcomes, as well as the sustainability and overall impact of the training provided.

Our role

Alongside partner organisations in Malawi and Zambia, we will consider:

  • Lessons learned
  • Potential scope for scalability
  • Value for money
  • Viable cost-effective options for addressing known gaps

Additionally, we will assess synergies with other regional management plans and programmes operating in the region and if there is any misalignment.

Outcomes and impact

Our evaluation will provide lessons learnt and recommendations on where future activities can be embedded into regional management plans and other projects.

The evidence gained through the evaluation will be used to feed into decisions on how DEFRA’s future Illegal Wildlife Trade programming can best support long term wildlife management in the region.

Methods and approaches

We are delivering a mixed-methods evaluation combining a range of data collection methods and analytical processes to build the evidence base of what works well and identify the programme’s contribution.

We have designed the evaluation to maximise primary data collection as well as analytical processes.

Programme data will be complemented by primary data collection using a range of methods with direct and indirect stakeholders, including focus group discussions, to strengthen triangulation and identify alternative factors influencing change.

A Value for Money assessment will consider the economic, social, and ecological value of wildlife protection. There will be a strong focus throughout on an ‘appreciative inquiry’ to gain buy-in from key stakeholders and encourage collaborative learning.

We will combine deductive contribution analysis centred on a programme Theory of Change with inductive analysis using Outcome Harvesting techniques. These are supported by our Training Assessment System for Evaluation and Reporting (TASER) framework – an evaluative tool which Itad developed with the UK Ministry of Defence to provide a systematic approach to measure capacity building effectiveness for security forces.

Team members
Kathrine Knus Larsen Jo Robinson