Fighting Wildlife Crime: “Poaching Is Stealing From All of Us” (Video)

“We do get captivated by media, by the attention drawn to other countries, to the big animals that are being slaughtered by poachers. And we do forget that we have the same problems going on in our backyards.” Those are the words of Shelley Hammonds, Regional Law Enforcement Coordinator, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, spoken in this video interview.

Speaking for Those That Can’t be Heard

“Whenever we see a deer laying in the field, killed in the middle of the night, with its antlers cut off, it makes you sick,” she explains. “But I think we forget how often it happens here, how often it happens around us. In those times when there is a conviction, when a poacher is brought to justice, I feel like we’ve all been able to speak for the ones that can’t be heard, for the animals, for those that have been taking illegally, because it’s stealing from all of us. When a poacher steals an animal, they have stolen from every single one of us.”

Hammonds keeps doing her job because she believes in it, she says. “Because I believe it is the right thing to do, and because someday I want my children to be able to say: ‘My Mom did what she believed in. She pushed hard, and she gave it everything she had.’ And I’ve had a good time; I love my job.”
Fighting Wildlife Crime on the Front Lines

This video interview with Shelley Hammonds is part of a series of interviews with the unsung heroes fighting wildlife crime on the front lines. Journalist and National Geographic Fellow Bryan Christy uses investigative journalism to expose illegal wildlife trafficking around the globe. He introduces the interview series in the video below:

Watch more videos in this series>>


Wildlife law enforcement officiers recently participated in a global seminar and training summit in Washington, D.C., focusing on sharing intelligence, ideas and collaboration. Read more about this below. Follow the link for a more comprehensive briefing.

Photograph by David Claypool

Uniting Against Organized Wildlife Crime

Law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and business leaders gathered from across the world in Washington recently to share information and expertise and organize a concerted strategy to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.

The unprecedented collaboration was heralded at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters on Tuesday, at an event held against the backdrop of recent news of a catastrophic plunge in the last wild populations of African elephants and other species. The meeting also set the stage for CITES CoP17, a conference in Johannesburg at the end of this month that will bring more than a hundred governments together to review the planet’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities.

More About National Geographic’s Contributions to Fighting Wildlife Crime

National Geographic Society

  • Saving Big Cats: Around the world, trophy hunting, habitat loss, and conflict with humans are putting big cats at great risk. See what we’re doing to help.
  • A Voice for Elephants: Elephants may be large, heavy and thick-skinned, but they are being threatened with extinction in the wild by poaching for their ivory, and by human impact on their habitats. “A Voice for Elephants” is a resource for information about this critical species, a forum for discussion, and a rally point for those who want to stand with them.
National Geographic Media
The National Geographic Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is dedicated to shining light on commercial-scale exploitation of wildlife and other valued resources, identifying weaknesses in national and international efforts to protect wildlife, and empowering institutions and individuals working for a better world. Stories cover a range of human activity, from crime to heroism. You can find all of the SIU’s stories at Wildlife Watch.

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn