FIghting Illicit Wildlife Trafficking: A Consultation With Governments

This report summarizes the views of a number of governments and international organizations on illicit wildlife trafficking. These views were collected through a series of structured interviews, and this report is the first to provide a snapshot of current governmental and intergovernmental opinions on this topic.

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. The governments and international organizations consulted on this issue agree that the current approach is not sufficient. However, opinions on the responsibility of different actors vary: countries that are primarily associated with demand are concerned with enforcement on the supply side, while countries that are primarily associated with supply are concerned with education and enforcement on the demand side. International organizations and government representatives point out that while there are individuals within governments and international organizations who are passionate about halting illicit wildlife trafficking, it is not a priority for governments.

There is general agreement among governments and international organizations that the commitments made and the actions taken are uncoordinated and fail to address the issue effectively. There is broad recognition that the absence of an effective response threatens iconic species such as the rhinoceros, the tiger and the elephant and has far-reaching implications for society as a whole. Governments are in agreement that:

  • Illicit wildlife trafficking compromises the security of countries.

  • Illicit wildlife trafficking hinders sustainable social and economic development.

  • Illicit wildlife trafficking destroys natural wealth.

  • Illicit wildlife trafficking poses risks to global health.

The representatives of governments and international organizations interviewed for this study pointed out that, to be successful, the approach to fighting illicit wildlife trafficking needs to get to the core of the issue, changing the behaviour of those people who demand, supply and otherwise profit from illicit wildlife trafficking. The momentum is building, with commitments made at Rio+20, recent CITES meetings and other global platforms. The next step is for governments and the international community to deliver on their commitments and be held to account for their action or, crucially, their lack of action.