Combatting International and Trans-border Wildlife Trafficking in Peru and Ecuador

Strengthening enforcement capacities and improving synergies to combat international and trans-border wildlife trafficking in and between Peru and Ecuador.

Main Image Credit J.Enrique Molina / Alamy Stock Photo - Shark fins drying in the sun

Ours is the first in-depth research project investigating trafficking of protected wildlife through legal supply chains in South America. Undertaken in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the project focuses on understanding the role of corruption, criminal networks and deficient regulatory frameworks in encouraging wildlife crimes in Peru and Ecuador. The study pays particular attention to the illegal shark trade in and from Ecuador, as well as the vast irregularities in the regional animal breeding business in Peru.

The primary focus of the study is to provide targeted recommendations to local governments and generate new intelligence on illicit financial flows; both will improve our understanding of the huge impact of wildlife crime on regional ecosystems.

Main Image Credit J.Enrique Molina / Alamy Stock Photo - Shark fins drying in the sun

Aims and objectives

To support local authorities in eradicating illegal wildlife trafficking (IWT) through legal supply chains:

Creation and Analysis of Wildlife Crime Case Databases

The project aims to compile a database of cases where trade in protected wildlife has been laundered through legally registered operations and facilities across South America, with a specific focus on Peru and Ecuador. Based on the data collected, RUSI will develop a set of hypotheses for how protected wildlife enters and is hidden through legal supply chains.

The analysis will consider multiple, pre-identified protected species as well as drivers, networks and enabling factors. It is also expected to lead to the identification of other crimes associated with this sort of activity (such as fraud, money laundering, document forgery and corruption), and to the development of hypotheses on how these criminal activities interact, with a view to testing the effectiveness of existing legislation in combatting this challenge.

Development of Classifications and Recommendations

The project team will use the data gathered during the compilation and analysis of the wildlife crime database to inform the development of a set of typologies of how protected wildlife enters legal supply chains.

This will ultimately support the creation of targeted technical and policy recommendations for how Peru and Ecuador might combat the problem.


  • Wildlife Conservation Society

    This project is funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Project outputs

Due to be released by the end of 2021:

  • A 10,000-word report that a) provides a regional overview of wildlife trafficking in South America, with a focus on Peru and Ecuador; b) describes how protected wildlife has been laundered through the legal supply chain across South America, with a specific focus on Peru and Ecuador; c) lists the crimes associated with this laundering; d) identifies the gaps in the response to the problem and provides an understanding of why they exist; and e) makes recommendations to improve the response.
  • Two Briefing Papers on the research findings to authorities in Peru and Ecuador.
  • One Briefing Paper on the findings to the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES).

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