Fighting Illicit Wildlife Trafficking
Based on the findings from this study, WWF and its global wildlife trade programme, TRAFFIC, urge governments to acknowledge
that the current global approach to fighting illicit wildlife trafficking is failing because governments do not give the issue high enough priority and have not succeeded in implementing an effective response – at either a national or an international level. The absence of an effective response hinders social and economic development, including potential economic loss for governments, and has direct
consequences on the environment as well as national and international security.
• Although illicit wildlife trafficking is a crime with wide security implications and has well documented links to other forms of illegal
trafficking, the financing of rebel groups, corruption and money laundering, the issue is primarily seen as an environmental issue,
which puts it low on governments’ agendas.
• Internationally, blame for the issue is passed back and forth between source and consumer countries; and there is a lack of collaboration, coordination and accountability between the two.
• Demand is driven by consumer trends but there is little market insight into the consumer habits of the emerging middle class in key demand markets such as Asia.
• Supply-side enforcement efforts have tended to focus on rangers in protected areas. This approach has been sporadic and underinvested, and it has often neglected improved criminal investigation, prosecution and coordination both nationally (for example, in the areas of trade, justice and commerce) and internationally.
• The current increase in poaching shows that investment in frontline protection is necessary to halt immediate extinction. Simultaneously, a systemic approach from source to the kingpins, to the consumers, needs to be implemented.
It is time to change the approach to fighting illicit wildlife trafficking by creating the right incentives for all stakeholders to make the issue a priority.
WWF and TRAFFIC call upon governments to take immediate action to:
• Recognize the threat posed by illicit wildlife trafficking to their own sovereignty and the need to treat this crime equally and in coordination with efforts to halt other forms of illegal trafficking, corruption and money laundering. The issue must be addressed by multiple ministries in a coordinated manner
• Strengthen collaborative mechanisms (for example, CITES) to enforce strict regulations and hold governments to account for their actions, including applying sanctions where necessary.
• Collaborate with civil society and the private sector to drive behavioural change efforts to reduce the incentives to consume endangered species, in particular in demand countries.
• Engage civil society and the private sector in recognizing the social and economic value of wildlife, and in carrying out activities for its
conservation, to reduce the incentives to engage in the illegal traffic, in particular in supply countries.
• Work to reduce illegal supply as well as demand, as neither approach alone will be successful.
• Address illicit wildlife trafficking at an inter-ministerial level and focus on enhancing the rule of law, and strengthening custom controls and other international enforcement mechanisms.
• Change the approach to illicit wildlife trafficking in recognition of the altered, organized criminal nature of the trade. Governments
should employ modern intelligence-led investigative techniques to identify and prosecute the criminals at the heart of the trade and apply penalties severe enough to create the deterrent required to discourage criminal involvement.