New Research Project Funded By UK Government to Track Funds from Illegal Wildlife Trade

RUSI will undertake a year-long research and training programme in Kenya and Tanzania focused on tracking the illicit funds earned from illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

This pilot initiative has been conceived in response to pressing capacity gaps within wildlife, law-enforcement, customs and justice departments in investigating wildlife-linked illicit financial flows. It is funded by the UK government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund which aims to enhance the government’s commitment to tackling the illegal trade in wildlife products via a £13-million package over four years targeted at reducing demand, strengthening law enforcement, and developing sustainable livelihoods for affected communities.

The training provided will enhance capacity to enforce wildlife-linked anti-money laundering legislation in Kenya and Tanzania – and to prosecute on this basis. This is urgently needed: the IWT is now the fourth-largest illicit activity worldwide, generating $7–23billion per year. In East Africa, financial investigatory capacity remains limited and wildlife losses to poaching are high. In 2009-11, Kenya and Tanzania accounted for 64% of all large ivory seizures made worldwide.

In implementing this project, RUSI will build on both its experience researching illegal wildlife trade in East Africa and the expertise embodied in its Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies.  From this independent platform, RUSI takes a leadership role in bringing together public and private sector stakeholders in tackling wide-ranging issues related to illicit finance. This project will unite this expertise with that linked to investigating wildlife trafficking in East Africa. In 2015, RUSI undertook a high-profile research project scrutinising the lack of evidence underpinning claims of extensive involvement by Al-Shabaab in ivory trafficking through Somalia.

For more information on this project, please contact Project Leader and Director of RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies Tom Keatinge, or the Project Manager – Cathy Haenlein, Research Analyst in National Security and Resilience Studies.


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