TNRC Knowledge Hub - Conservation Challenge: Wildlife trafficking

Combating Corruption that Facilitates Illegal Wildlife Trade

To strengthen programs to combat wildlife trafficking, assess how corrupt practices undermine protection regimes and enforcement efforts, consider the power and resources of change agents and their opponents, and seek partnerships and new approaches to address the most critical risks.

Does your work focus on combating wildlife trafficking? Is corruption enabling illicit trade and undermining your results? This page outlines three steps to start building anti-corruption approaches into your conservation programming.

The Challenge

  • Corruption is a key facilitator of the illegal wildlife trade and is broadly associated with transnational organized crime.
  • Corruption can occur anywhere, from the point of access to transport, export, and sale to consumers.
  • Programming to combat wildlife trafficking should be informed by careful assessment of the corrupt practices involved, the power and resources of change agents and their opponents, and associated risks.

Three Steps to Follow

infographic of three steps

Step 1: Understand Corruption Get familiar with how corruption impacts conservation and ways to respond

Whether you have decades of experience or are new to the field, you may not know exactly where corruption risks lie, how they might be influencing your conservation outcomes, and what can be done about them. Start by taking the 90-minute eCourse below.

Step 2: Assess Your Situation Identify how corruption affects the objectives of your own programming

Best results will come from layering interventions at multiple risk points. The first step is to think about who has power in your implementing context. You can then start to identify drivers and facilitators of corruption and entry points for—as well as limitations on—change. The resources below will help you to ask the right questions and identify those risk points.

People smiling around a conference table

Situation Analysis

Learn more about assessing the threats that corruption may pose to conservation objectives and identify responses that are appropriate to your specific context.

Step 3: Adapt Your Programming Consider approaches that fit your needs

Consider whether some of the programming avenues below would help to address your challenges. Take a moment to read these principles for getting started from recent experience testing anti-corruption approaches in various contexts.

Remember: Evidence suggests that targeting corruption through multiple approaches yields best results.

Illustration of park ranger outside with elephants and rhinos© Ompraksh Raj / Vecteezy

Case Study: Strengthening park management procedures to reduce opportunities for corruption

Corruption in wildlife management agencies can facilitate poaching and trafficking. WWF Kenya and the Basel Institute on Governance are analyzing corruption vulnerabilities that enable poaching in different contexts and ways to strengthen accountability in National Park and Protected Area management systems. Corruption risk-informed Standard Operating Procedures are being integrated into control room software to increase layers of oversight and reduce opportunities for corruption (TNRC Pilot 2023).

Seeking Advisors and Partners?

Image attribution: © / Jen Guyton / WWF; © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF; © Georgina Goodwin / Shoot The Earth / WWF-UK; © Hkun Lat / WWF-Aus