The Wildlife Trafficking-Security Nexus: Targeting the Organised Crime Threat

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Wildlife trafficking is having a devastating effect on many species across the globe. It has increasingly been recognised as a form of transnational organised crime, with major implications for security.

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However, organised criminal wildlife trafficking and its security implications are often not addressed as comprehensively as they could be. Part of the challenge is the lack of an established research base setting out the relevant organised crime dynamics, or the case for (or against) explicitly targeting the organised crime aspect of the wildlife trafficking–security nexus. The most in-depth study to date – the 2017 RUSI paper Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Security in Africa – examined key aspects of the threat posed in Africa, but there is limited information for policy makers, security agencies and donors regarding response mechanisms that could be supported.

On the eve of the London Conference on IWT, RUSI’s Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research, United for Wildlife, and the Wildlife Conservation Society will host an event to examine these topics. The event focused on a key component of the wildlife trafficking–security nexus: the organised crime dynamics driving wildlife trafficking.

It brought together academics, practitioners, NGO representatives and analysts to discuss practical measures to more effectively address the security dimensions of wildlife trafficking, with a focus on Africa. The event included a brief panel discussion followed by an opportunity for questions and further discussions.

Topics discussed focused on:

  • The current evidence on the organised crime dynamics driving wildlife trafficking and the broader security threat these dynamics pose;
  • The effectiveness of cross-sector collaboration and existing responses to organised-crime dynamics including complex multi-jurisdiction enforcement efforts;
  • Practical measures (including the use of financial tools) to more effectively disrupt organised crime dynamics;
  • Key knowledge and capacity gaps impacting efforts, including intelligence and information management.


The event was be chaired by RUSI’s Chairman, Lord Hague of Richmond. Panellists will include:

  • Vincent Opyene, Director, Natural Resource Conservation Network
  • Gloria Freund, Counter Wildlife Trafficking Lead, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Simon Marsh, Senior Investigations Expert – East Africa, International Centre for Asset Recovery, Basel Institute of Governance
  • Paul Elkan, Sudano-Sahel Region Director, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Cathy Haenlein, Senior Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute


Please note that this event is by invitation only. 

To register for this event, click here

For further details of the event, please contact Allana Howard.

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