Dan Bucknell

Executive Director at Tusk

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Outreach

14th November 2016 London, UK

Tackling Illegal Wildlife Trade

The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) has become the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking. Worth as much as $20billion per year, IWT threatens international security, national sovereignties, impoverished rural communities, and countless animals from elephants and rhinos, to lions and pangolins.

To tackle IWT, Tusk is currently running two key projects in Africa that are being funded by the UK Government through the IWT Challenge Fund. To date, 89 rangers from 4 protected areas have passed initial specialist training in how to directly track and intercept poachers before they reach their target. Meanwhile, 11 information officers from 8 protected areas have received expert training in information gathering and analysis, and a network is being established for sharing information between the protected areas, many of which are part of the African Parks network, the main partner for the project.

The second project is in partnership with the Uganda Conservation Foundation and others, and is focussed on overcoming Uganda’s role as a major transit hub for illegal wildlife trade, as well as some of the wildlife poaching happening within. This project is identifying and reducing the factors that push people into wildlife crime from the poor rural communities around Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Community food gardens are being developed in both areas to develop sustainable livelihood options, and measures to prevent human-wildlife conflict are being introduced to improve relations between the rural communities and those protecting the park. In addition, 40 intelligence officers have so far been trained in information management and data collection. This has already resulted in significant arrests and improved prosecution techniques.

Overall, Tusk supports the anti-poaching patrols of 450 game guards across 30 community-led initiatives in ten countries from Mali to Zimbabwe, successfully overcoming the poaching threat in many of these areas. We also support international initiatives to secure greater government-led action on tackling IWT, and are attending the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, which we are optimistic will build on the momentum created by the recent IUCN and CITES conferences in tackling the trade. In particular, we hope the conference will secure greater commitments to improve law enforcement and increase penalties for those convicted of trading wildlife products illegally.


Interception tracking course, March 2016, Liwonde National Park Malawi. Photo: Luke Townsend

1 comment on “Tackling Illegal Wildlife Trade

  1. This is a great initiative. I hope we will continue to fund such initiatives. The world now needs more collaboration and cooperation, not less!
    Its shocking to think that this ranks 4th!

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