Campaigning for wildlife and conservation with Frances Goodrum from the International Fund for Animal Welfare
If you needed a campaigner, Frances Goodrum is exactly the kind of person you would want on your side. Personable, articulate and accomplished, she would, without a doubt, get the job done and get it done right. So, as conservationists, we’re lucky that early on she chose to pursue a different path to her training in the legal sector, putting these traits to use for the greater good instead.
After graduating with a law degree from the University of East Anglia, Frances did a brief stint as a trainee solicitor before changing careers to follow a lifelong ambition working in animal welfare. She began in an entry project role at World Animal Protection (an animal welfare NGO). During her four years with the organisation she explored where her interests lay, from farm animal welfare to “one health” programmes focussing on education and the elimination of dog mediated rabies.
Her next job was with Dogs Trust (a leading UK dog charity) – working on campaigns to raise awareness about puppy smuggling, educating owners on what to avoid when purchasing pets online and on long term responsible dog ownership.
Next, she took up a position in external affairs at Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys. Frances describes how working equids (horses, donkeys and mules) often fall between policy gaps within the regions Brooke supports.
These equids provide critical traction in many countries and indirect income to send children to school and get goods to market. Their health and welfare correlates with their owner’s resilience and ability to thrive, so she says it’s a no brainer to call for their protection. Working alongside colleagues on the ground, Frances campaigned from local to UN level to challenge and address these policy gaps and therefore improve their welfare.
It was whilst working on campaigns around the ejiao trade (a traditional medicine produced from the collagen extracted from donkey skin) and the consequent rise in donkey theft in many African countries that her interest in wider wildlife protection was sparked. Brooke had provided a great learning space, but after seven years she decided to make a change, choosing to apply her skills to conservation instead.
‘IFAW was my first conservation role.’
In 2022, she started her position as Head of Campaigns and Programmes at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), an organisation which combines animal welfare and conservation in what seemed like the perfect fit for Frances.
IFAW works across forty countries worldwide, partnering with organisations on the ground and working at all levels of conservation from combatting poaching to engaging governments on policy, such as the UK Ivory Act.
“It’s those organisations that are working heavily in partnership with others that are great spaces to learn.”
Frances elaborates further on how IFAW’s structure works, explaining how they create multi-year strategic frameworks for wildlife crime, marine conservation, wildlife rescue and landscape conservation. These priorities aid in the budgeting and planning for each country program and are endorsed by an international board after thorough evaluation.
For Frances, working on a national level in the UK, the internal framework for wildlife crime helps shape the way she works. Campaigning requires flexibility as changes often happen outside of rigid objectives, an approach IFAW embrace. For example, although the UK Ivory Act received royal assent in 2018 and banned nearly all trade in Ivory within the UK, there was a delay of three and half years before it came into force in 2022.
Since then, Frances has worked alongside other NGOs to research developing trends allowing them to assess the impact of the Act and lobby the government to extend the protection to other species of concern.
‘There are so many issues that an organisation can work on, but you have to prioritise, which can sometimes mean not doing other areas of work you want to.’
Currently, her major focus is the Make Wildlife Matter campaign which addresses the misconception that wildlife crime is largely an international problem. These crimes involve the illegal exploitation of wildlife species through poaching, such as illegal hunting, fishing, killing or capturing; abuse; and trafficking of wild animal species. Between 2019 and 2021 the estimated number of wildlife crime incidences within the UK increased by 30 per cent.
As Frances details, IFAW commissioned research by criminologists at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Gloucestershire to carry out a comprehensive review of UK Wildlife law and interview stakeholders ranging from NGOs to wildlife crime officers and police crime commissioners.
Concerningly, the findings showed that wildlife crime is not currently considered a core policing issue and is not given the same priority as ‘mainstream’ crimes. This is despite 100% of the wildlife crime officers questioned in the study stating that wildlife offending was linked to other forms of serious crime, and 89 per cent saying that wildlife crime should be given the same priority as more traditional types of crime.
She explains further: because wildlife crime is non-notifiable in the UK (i.e. incidents are not reported to the Home Office and recorded in the National Crime statistics) any figures on the number of episodes are largely collated by wildlife NGOs such as the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). The true numbers are likely to be in the tens of thousands.
Frances and her colleagues at IFAW have launched the Make Wildlife Matter campaign to build momentum with the public, politicians and organisations asking them to demand the government act and introduce stronger measures including making wildlife crimes notifiable.
“I’m a really big believer in collaboration and sharing research.”
Elaborating on this comment, Frances explains that a key element of this campaign and others is the Wildlife and Countryside Link Group, a coalition of 76 environment and wildlife organisations in England including IFAW. Their wildlife crime working group shares information, coordinates strategies and calls on the Home Office to change the counting rules.
As we approach the season for political party conferences, Frances is gearing up to represent IFAW in front of UK politicians, using the platform to highlight their work and influence policy going forward. She will also support wider efforts, such as Time for Change an alliance of leading animal welfare charities calling for a true end to hunting with dogs in UK, with a ban on “trail hunting” (an activity used as a smokescreen for illegal hunts under the Hunting Act).
This type of external representation forms a big part of her job alongside research, stakeholder engagement and raising public awareness of their campaigns. It’s also the main area where she has found collaborations with NGOs, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and networks such as United for Wildlife (of which IFAW are a member) to be of benefit. Sharing intel and tactics like the use of AI in combatting wildlife crime is pivotal to jointly increasing the profile of UK wildlife
Whilst wildlife crime is a focus, she attempts to balance the campaigns work to support other pressing national animal welfare issues. Following the government’s decision to openly consult on the keeping of primates as pets in the UK, she has submitted IFAW’s position in the hope we can move closer to a ban – wild animals belong in the wild.
Frances also aims to increase their level of campaigning around marine matters with a special interest in reducing and eliminating bycatch in UK waters. She also intends to support her global policy colleagues to call on the Government to lead assertively in forums such as the International Whaling Commission (which has long held a moratorium on commercial whaling in their member states).
She explains that as a campaigner, your contribution towards a change may seem small but the collective effect of in-depth research, the opinion of the public and multiple organisations working towards a common goal has the power to change policy and practice.
For her, after just a year at IFAW, the biggest success has been witnessing the promise to extend the UK Ivory Act to five other species beyond elephants. This includes hippo, narwhal, walrus, killer whale and sperm whale.
Importantly, it’s not just that single event which she finds exciting, it’s the opportunities it gives her to discuss this and wider wildlife crime issues, whilst having a ripple effect across other countries considering a ban on ivory trading.
It’s clear that the workload is challenging and resilience is necessary when dealing with certain subjects, but after years of experience, Frances is careful to maintain a balance with her work and personal life by spending time with family, art, getting outside in nature and walks with her dog.
She’s a champion for women in the workplace and is also a trustee for an equality charity called Equality Starts at Home which aims to support balance at home and enable critical conversations, whilst being respectful of the different circumstances people have and the sensitivities around finding that balance.
Frances always wanted to work in animal welfare and conservation; she followed a dream and has already made an impact on the lives of so many species. It’s clear that, through her ongoing work at IFAW, that list will just continue to grow.
If you would like to add your support to the Make Wildlife Matter campaign please sign the petition at Help make wildlife crimes notifiable in the UK | IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare
For more information on the proposed ban on keeping primates as pets head to Government sets out plans to ban the keeping of primates as pets – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
To learn more about careers in wildlife conservation campaigning, explore our role profile Policy Advocate | Saving wildlife through law.
Author Profile | Jennifer von Broembsen
Jennifer is a veterinarian from Northern Ireland. Passionate about animals all her life but increasingly concerned about the loss of biodiversity worldwide, she has made the decision to leave the consulting room behind and help halt this destruction by finding a job in conservation. An enthusiastic gardener, average cook and terrible singer she is happiest outdoors with her two kids.