2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Despite the onslaught of COVID-19 and the related restrictions, this year has also seen the Wildlife Justice Commission take huge steps forward in our work to disrupt and dismantle transnational wildlife crime networks. We quickly adapted our on-the-ground investigations to the new situation, while furthering our intelligence, policy, and communication work. We have continued urging governments to scale up the fight against wildlife crime, which drives species towards extinction and, as proven in 2020, poses a direct threat to public health and security.
Disruption of criminal networks
We have facilitated the arrest of 24 high-level wildlife criminals and the disruption of five networks trafficking in valuable animal parts and live wildlife. Our work spanned Africa and Asia, demonstrating the continued importance of taking an intelligence-led approach to combatting transnational trafficking.
Bridging the intelligence gap
Public health restrictions have certainly not slowed down our Intelligence Development Unit (IDU). We have continued to provide intelligence on criminal trends and dynamics to both law enforcement and policy makers, increasing insights about transnational trafficking through the application of intelligence analysis. We examined a wide range of topics in 2020, including:
- the increased trafficking of pangolins and their scales
- changing dynamics in the ivory trade
- the impact of COVID-19 on wildlife trafficking networks
- the persistent trafficking of Indian Star tortoises
- a rapid assessment of the illegal ivory trade in 2020
- the cross-cutting nature of wildlife crime with other transnational organised crime.
Our growing influence
Throughout 2020, we have strengthened our capabilities to influence policies that will prioritise the fight against wildlife crime. This year saw us participating in multiple high-level fora and collaborating with a diverse range of stakeholders and organisations. In addition to our own publications, we contributed valuable data to the Financial Action Task Force’s report, Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade, and the World Wildlife Crime Report by the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
We have engaged with specialist, corporate and mainstream audiences at many inter-disciplinary events, such as the World Bank Group Wildlife Forum, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and a side event we organised at the COP10 to the UNTOC in partnership with the UNODC. This year also saw a growing awareness of financial flows related to trafficking. To help expand this knowledge base, we participated in an ABN AMRO employee webinar, an ACAMS Netherlands Chapter webinar for anti-money laundering specialists, and a webinar examining wildlife crime through the lens of financial crime.
Building and strengthening alliances
Tackling an issue as huge as wildlife crime requires global cooperation and international resources. In 2020, we joined the United for Wildlife community, and have further expanded our network of allies and partners so our work can make an even greater impact:
Our work is only made possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.
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The Wildlife Justice Commission would like to extend our deepest appreciation to our supporters. Thank you so much for your continued support during these trying times. We wish you a safe and healthy new year, and we’re looking forward to making 2021 a banner year in the fight to end wildlife crime.