Fighting illicit wildlife trafficking: A consultation with governments

What is the the scale and what are the implications of illicit wildlife trafficking? Why does it matters to society and how should the different actors respond going forward?

Based on a series of interviews with government representatives and relevant international organizations, Dalberg Global Development Advisors concluded that: “The current global approach to fighting illicit wildlife trafficking is failing, contributing to the instability of society and threatening the existence of some illegally traded species.”

According to the report, illegal trade in wildlife, including timber and fish:

  • Comprises the fourth largest global illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting of products and currency, and human trafficking, and is estimated to be worth at least US$19 billion per year;
  • Is a lucrative business for criminal syndicates because the risk involved is low compared to other crimes and high profits can be generated;
  • Hinders social and economic development, including potential economic loss for governments, and has direct consequences on rule of law, national and international security and the environment.
WWF's report is based on interviews with government officials and representatives of intergovernmental agencies.


Illicit Wildlife Trafficking photo gallery

In their own words

“Wildlife crime is known to involve significant organized criminal networks that are engaged in a range of criminal activities. They are responsible for the corruption of officials, fraud, money laundering and violence, causing social unrest and undermining the rule of law and confidence in government institutions”

David Higgins, INTERPOL


Tackling organized crimes such as illicit wildlife trafficking is essential to secure sustainable economic growth in Africa. It is then of paramount importance that national governments—and regional institutions such as my own—do everything they can to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking. Our approach to tackling illicit wildlife trafficking must be of a magnitude that matches its severity. That means attention from the highest levels of government. 

Donald Kaberuka, African Development Bank President

Media contact

Alona Rivord
+41 79 959 1963

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Fast facts

100 million tonnes of fish, 1.5 million live birds and 440,000 tonnes of medicinal plants are traded illegally each year

The illicit wildlife trade (excluding fisheries and timber) has been valued at up to US$10 billion per year

The price of rhino horn has risen to US$60,000 per kilogram

There are 176 member nations to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Some 2,500 new rangers are being hired in Cameroon to protect wildlife