Research Programme into Disrupting Wildlife-Linked Illicit Financial Flows in East and Southern Africa

RUSI is launching a new research and training programme focussed on disrupting the illicit funds earned from the illegal wildlife trade in East and Southern Africa, with a focus on Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.

Entitled 'Following the Money II: Disrupting Wildlife-Linked Illicit Financial Flows in East and Southern Africa', this project is funded by the UK government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, which aims to enhance global efforts to tackle wildlife trafficking. Delivering a £13-million package over four years, the fund is targeted at reducing demand, strengthening law enforcement, and developing sustainable livelihoods. This project follows on from RUSI’s work piloting anti-money laundering training and capacity-building in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in 2016-18. The first project of its kind, the East African project highlighted clear demand for multi-agency training in the financial dimensions of IWT.

The project will build capacity in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to detect and prosecute wildlife-linked money-laundering. It will begin with a strategic threat- and needs-assessment around wildlife-linked illicit financial flows, followed by tailored multi-agency and cross-border training, bridging law-enforcement, banking, wildlife agencies and prosecution services. In implementing this project, RUSI will build on its experience in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, returning to each of these countries to deliver top-up training courses on financial investigation techniques, and their use at both domestic and international levels.

The project will culminate in the production of rapid reference guides and e-learning courses to disseminate best practice in ‘following the money’ linked to IWT. These practicioner-focused resources will provide practical guidance on all aspects of wildlife-linked financial investigation, tailored to each country context.

This is urgently needed: IWT is a highly lucrative form of transnational organised crime, generating an estimated $7-23 billion per year. However, little is known about the illicit financial flows linked to IWT in both source and transit areas. According to African Union figures, Southern and West Africa account for more than 80% of the cumulative IFFs in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet wildlife-linked IFFs are rarely considered in this context.

This research will draw on RUSI’s considerable experience researching wildlife crime across East Africa and the expertise embodied in its Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies.

For information, please contact: Tom Keatinge, Director, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, RUSI (; Cathy Haenlein, Senior Research Fellow (;  Alexandria Reid, Research Analyst (


Explore our related content