Construction of Harm and Victimhood

Tanya Wyatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter delves into the contentious area of harm and victims within the illegal wildlife trade. The often times conflicting perspectives from which harm can be constructed will first be looked at. This includes how definitions of who can be harmed and what harm is change depending upon if an anthropocentric, biocentric, or ecocentric approach is taken when assessing the presence of harm. This leads to an exploration of victimhood within wildlife trafficking. The discussion centres on who are victims of the illegal trade—is it the individual animals? Can plants be victims? Are those who lose natural resources the victims? Can the environment or planet be a victim? Is it the country? This sets out a typical hierarchy of victimhood within the illegal trade that is not dissimilar to the hierarchy of human victims. The ‘ideal’ wildlife victim is the critically endangered charismatic megafauna, like the tiger, where as other less appealing animals, like the pangolin, are less ‘worthy’ victims or in the case of plants and invertebrates invisible altogether. Along this continuum are also people and communities that maybe victimised by the trade because it damages their livelihood. Non-human animals who are rescued from the illegal wildlife trade also face further possible victimisation depending upon what fate they are given upon being found. This section explores the euthanasia, rehabilitation, reintroduction, or life in captivity that non-human animals face when law enforcement takes them out of the smuggling chain. The chapter concludes with thoughts on what societies’ moral obligation is around harm and victims in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWildlife Trafficking
Subtitle of host publicationA Deconstruction of the Crime, Victims and Offenders
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9783030837532
ISBN (Print)9783030837525, 9783030837556
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameCritical Criminological Perspectives
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2731-0604
ISSN (Electronic)2731-0612


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