King's College London

Research portal

Wars over Wildlife: Green Militarisation and Just War Theory

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Amy Dickman, Paul Johnson, Peter Coals, Lauren Harrington, Peter Tyrrell, Keith Somerville, Alayne Cotterill, David Whetham

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-297
Number of pages5
JournalConservation and Society
Issue number3
Published1 Jul 2020

King's Authors


Militarisation of conservation (sometimes known as 'green militarisation') is an issue of growing international interest. Rhino horn is immensely valuable (in 2013 its value exceeded that of gold or cocaine), and its illegal trade has attracted widespread attention. Conservationists have declared a 'war' on poaching, with extensive military resources deployed to combat it. This sometimes includes operations which are referred to, particularly in the media, as 'shoot-to-kill'. These can be tantamount to extra-judicial killings. We scrutinise this issue using 'Just War' principles, to explore whether the 'war' on poaching meets the criteria expected of armed conflict. Our perspective suggests that it fails both ethical and pragmatic examination. This piece encourages conservation scientists, and the public, to consider which actions are justified in protecting wildlife, and how we should rethink conservation policy to achieve ethical, successful outcomes for both people and wildlife.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454