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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Seized poached elephant tusks and poacher's weapons, Oyem, Gabon © WWF / James Morgan

wildlife crime disrupting international wildlife poaching and trafficking networks

Seized poached elephant tusks and poacher's weapons, Oyem, Gabon © WWF / James Morgan

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the span of our work against wildlife crime

Wildlife crime has been a conservation scourge for decades. Poaching and illegal harvesting, particularly in Africa, continues to devastate wildlife populations, threatening the survival of rhinos, elephants, pangolins, rosewoods and a wide variety of other species.

The illegal wildlife trade, now the fourth largest illicit transnational activity in the world, is the fuel that drives the wildlife crime fires. Continuing consumer demand, largely from Asia, for increasingly rare horns, ivory, bones, skins, and precious timber is driving unprecedented wildlife population declines.

according to the UN, in 2016 the annual value of illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth

USD7–23 billion

Crawford Allan, Senior Director, America and Wildlife Crime

Wildlife crime goes beyond conservation issues, it is also a threat to national and regional security, a barrier to sustainable human development and a fuel for corruption

Crawford Allan, Senior Director, America and Wildlife Crime

what can be done to turn the tide?

The conservation community has never been so well equipped to combat the motivations, rewards and enablers of wildlife crime.

Yet, advances in technology and rising globalisation mean that wildlife traffickers and highly organised transnational criminal syndicates are increasingly able to capitalise on regulatory loopholes and weak enforcement.

Our work on combating wildlife crime and illegal trade take a trade chain-wide approach—from working with WWF on anti-poaching efforts in source countries to developing consumer interventions in destination markets. Behavioural science and social marketing are helping to guide initiatives to reduce consumer demand for illicit or threatened wildlife; political advocacy and influence is helping us work with governments to bring about changes in national and international laws; partnerships with the private sector are helping to stamp out illegal wildlife trade online and throughout transport routes; and innovative technology is helping us support enforcement agencies on the ground, in the lab and at court.

Amur leopard Panthera pardus orientalis © naturepl.com / Lynn M. Stone / WWF

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our conservation strategy

enhancing responses to wildlife crime and illegal trade

Our conservation strategy is split into two inter-connected workstreams, each working to protect natural biodiversity and promote sustainable wildlife trade. Our "red stream" work encompasses illegal trade and wildlife crime. Find out more about illegal wildlife trade and our programmatic approaches to achieving a sustained reduction in illegal wildlife trade worldwide.

illegal wildlife trade

more about key species affected by wildlife crime

a selection of our projects fighting wildlife crime

Global coalition to end wildlife trafficking online

The growing threats from illegal online activity requires a response to match.

TRAFFIC with our partners WWF, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have brought together a partnership between leading tech companies from across the world to spearhead an industry-wide commitment to reduce wildlife trafficking online by 80% by 2020.

more about the coalition

Wildlife Crime Initiative

The Wildlife Crime Initiative (WCI) was a joint TRAFFIC and WWF programme dedicated to tackling the most impactful, large-scale and organised forms of wildlife crime.

It addressed the three main drivers of wildlife crime: consumption of illegal or endangered wildlife products, poor or ineffective legal or policy frameworks, and illegal financial flows. The WCI evolved to match dynamic wildlie crime trends, and has since been mainstreamed across the environmental and security sector at large.

wildlife crime initiative

Wildlife-TRAPS

TRAFFIC's Wildlife TRAPS Project is designed to develop and deliver a suite of ground-breaking partnerships and pioneering approaches to tackle wildlife crime between Africa and Asia.

Wildlife TRAPS uses targeted assessments, collaborative action planning, and innovative approaches to identify and advance interventions that can break trafficking chains and disrupt organised criminal networks.

about Wildlife-TRAPS

Dried abalone stored in a glass jar in Hong Kong © Wilson Lau / TRAFFIC

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Wildlife Crime in Namibia and Kavango Zambezi

The Combating Wildlife Crime in Namibia and Kavango Zambezi Area Project (CWCP) seeks to counter growing threats from transnational wildlife crime.

The project is specifically working to protect globally important populations of rhino and elephant found in northwest Namibia and project sites in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).

about CWCP

Wildlife sniffer dogs

Wildlife detector dogs are proving invaluable in the fight against wildlife crime, and are used in a variety of ways, from anti-poaching units helping rangers in National Parks in Africa, to tracking wildlife contraband in airports. More effort, however, needs to be focused on large-scale sea containers. 

Detecting hidden ivory among millions of sea containers is like finding a needle in a haystack. TRAFFIC has successfully tested the use of a vacuum pump technology that collects vapour traces from containers, sample of which are then taken to trained dogs to determine if contraband is present. However, this technology is expensive to implement. TRAFFIC and partners are developing an affordable alternative that uses locally-sourced materials to allow for this vacuum system to be implemented more widely in source countries. Ultimately, the outcomes of the project will allow port agencies to be able to build their own systems and train their drug dogs for wildlife detection. 

A wildlife sniffer dog in action © Wayne Wu / TRAFFIC

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reports related to WILDLIFE CRIME

The majority of our reports cover some aspect relating to wildlife crime or illegal trade. This is the latest selection of publications exclusively relating to illegal trade.

Visit our publications library for the full TRAFFIC archive.