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Wildlife crime presents a growing threat to the integrity of ecological communities. While campaigns have raised consumer awareness, little is known about the socio-demographic profile of wildlife offenders, or how to intervene. Using data from China Judgements Online (2014-2018), we documented 4,735 cases, involving 7,244 offenders who smuggled, hunted, transported, sold and/or purchased protected species in contravention of China's Criminal Law. Offenders were predominantly men (93.0% of 7,143 offenders), aged 30-44 (43.9% of 4,699), agricultural workers (48.4% of 3,960), with less schooling (78.6% of 4,699 < senior secondary school). Socio-economic profiles related to crime seriousness, the type of illegal activity, motivation and taxon involved. These generalizations reveal scope to tailor specific intervention and mitigation approaches to offender profiles, through public information campaigns, proactive incentives opposed by punitive disincentives, and provision of alternative incomes.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date