cybercrime in the EU disrupting wildlife cybercriminals and their networks in the European Union

disrupting wildlife cybercrime in the EU

Wildlife crime is estimated to be one of the largest transnational criminal activities with historical sales of illicit wildlife occurring in shops and other physical marketplaces.

However, the growth and accessibility of the internet has allowed wildlife traffickers to move online and gain access to a vast marketplace, making wildlife crime a new form of ‘cyber-enabled’ crime. The EU is a major global consumer of wildlife products and has a significant role to play in reducing illegal trade and ensuring a sustainable wildlife legal trade. 


suspicious posts from 65 different sellers found in 3 months

our project objective

Alongside our partners WWF, IFAW, INTERPOL, and Belgian Customs, TRAFFIC is working to disrupt criminals trafficking wildlife in or via the EU using online, postal, or fast parcel services.

Our target is to make it much harder for criminals to use the internet and postal services in the EU for wildlife-related criminal activities. An increased risk of detection, the removal of fraudulent adverts and accounts, as well as an intensification of seizures, will make it increasingly difficult for wildlife cybercriminals to operate.

Hermann's Totoises Testudo hermanni are among the many reptiles trafficked for the exotic pet trade in and via the EU


Florian Debeve, Project Administrator

Europe is a major transit hub and market for international wildlife smuggling networks – disrupting cybercriminals operating within the EU is an urgent conservation priority

Florian Debeve, Project Administrator

how can the EU disrupt wildlife cybercrime?


Research has shown that the scale of cyber-enabled wildlife crime is significantly larger than current enforcement capacity.

In 2014, IFAW published a report, Wanted - Dead or Alive, estimating that illegal wildlife trade generated an estimated US $19 billion per year, ranking fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities closely behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking. In 2017, another study from IFAW, ran for 6 weeks in France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, showed 5,381 advertisements and posts spread across 106 online marketplaces and social media platforms, cataloguing 11,772 specimens worth US $3,942,329 million.

Cyber-enabled wildlife crime has been identified by the EU as an enforcement priority, following, the recognition of environmental crime, including wildlife trafficking, in 2017, as one of the EU´s 10 priorities for the fight against Multi-Annual Strategic Plan for Environmental Crime Priority set clear strategic goals for this period, including online trade in illicit goods and services.

the 4 pillars of our work

Throughout the project, specific case studies will be undertaken, as well as training workshops held in countries including Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

The action wil be relevant to all 28 EU Member States, ensuring that law enforcement authorities from across the EU will benefit from improved information, analysis, tools, training, strengthened co-operation and information exchange with relevant enforcement agencies as well as with the private sector

research and analysis

capacity and training

online investigations

building partnerships

our partners

Working with international partners to create maximum conservation impact.