You are here

An African elephant in a park

Illegal Wildlife Trade and Financial Investigations in West Africa

Alexandria Reid and Mark Williams
Occasional Papers, 30 April 2021
Organised Crime and Policing, AML/CTF, Organised Crime, Africa
This paper examines the illegal wildlife trade in West Africa, and provides recommendations on how to combat it.

In the last five years, West Africa has emerged as a major source and transit hub in the global illegal wildlife trade (IWT). The industrial scale of the multi-tonne, multi-product seizures originating from West Africa clearly demonstrates that profit-driven organised crime groups are running the trade. Yet, while the significance of the region in global IWT flows is increasingly recognised, very little is known about the financial aspects of these criminal operations.

This paper begins by analysing IWT trends in West Africa, with a focus on high-grossing trafficking in elephant ivory, pangolin scales and rosewood. Second, it identifies key challenges that currently prevent the use of financial investigation in IWT cases, with a view to establishing baseline levels of awareness and capacity to combat IWT as a financial crime among financial intelligence units in the region. Third, it provides recommendations to support the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force's guidelines in the region.

BANNER IMAGE: Courtesy of Britta/Adobe Stock.

Alexandria Reid
Research Fellow, National Security and Resilience

Alexandria Reid is a Research Fellow in the Organised Crime and Policing team at RUSI, where her research focusses on... read more

Mark Williams
Research Analyst
Mark Williams is as Research Analyst in the Organised Crime and Policing Team at RUSI. His... read more

Support Rusi Research

Subscribe to our Newsletter