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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
The illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, shark fins, marine turtle shell, and rosewood is causing unprecedented declines in many species populations, with associated adverse effects on their ecosystems. Increasingly, the illegal wildlife trade is being dominated by organized criminal networks that are making enormous profits, often without fear of detection or penalty. TRAFFIC specializes in providing information analytics on illegal trade networks and supply chains, targeting the kingpins, illegal markets, and new trends in trafficking.
Most wildlife trade is not illegal. Hundreds of thousands of species of wild plants and animals are caught or farmed globally and then sold legally as food, pets, ornamentation, fashion, leather, souvenirs or for use in traditional medicine. Wildlife trafficking and unsustainable practices, however, undermine legal, sustainable trade. TRAFFIC provides a scientific basis for understanding of the scale and sustainability of wildlife trade to allow policy makers, communities, and wildlife managers to make the right decisions.
Communities benefit in many ways from wildlife and the habitats that sustain them, including through revenues or barter from wildlife trade. Wildlife trade that is illegal and unsustainable heavily impacts the local communities that rely on them through loss of resources and incomes. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the devastating impacts of zoonotic diseases on human health and economic stability, caused by trade in wildlife that carry novel viruses. These are highly complex challenges and TRAFFIC is at the forefront, developing the solutions, strategies, and partnerships for resilient communities.
TRAFFIC’s team around the world carries out research, investigations, and analyses to catalyze action by governments, businesses, institutions and individuals. The global team works in the world’s most critical wildlife trade hotspots and along supply chains, revealing the latest trends in trade and sounding the alarm when urgent threats are detected.
TRAFFIC operates in a regional structure of offices working cohesively across the globe. TRAFFIC’s largest programs are in Africa and Asia, where the greatest impact has been needed over the past decade, due to booming consumer demand and trafficking in wildlife. In the Americas, TRAFFIC is based in Washington DC as part of WWF-US under an associate agreement.
The Americas has hugely diverse wildlife trade dynamics, acting as both an important source of native wildlife, a global transit hub and massive consumer market. The US is one of the largest global consumer markets for wildlife, but it also has its own trade and management issues with its native species. With some of the most biodiverse nations, Latin American and the Caribbean countries rely on wild animals and plants for livelihoods, resources, and cultural uses.
TRAFFIC implements projects in the Americas, primarily on analyzing and alerting to illegal wildlife trade threats. Tackling the risk of zoonotic disease caused by wildlife trade is a new priority. The central hub for TRAFFIC is based in the US to leverage influence and impact internationally through US investments. The TRAFFIC team in the US provides research, new tools, capacity building and catalyzes international partnerships.