Law enforcement and legal experts fighting transnational organised wildlife crime
The Wildlife Justice Commission believes our wildlife is not for sale to the highest bidder and must be protected from traffickers who turn endangered species into trinkets and jewelry.
Our investigators work undercover to drive the wildlife criminals out of the shadows and bring an end to their multi-billion-dollar dirty business. We combine compelling evidence of wildlife crime gained through in-depth intelligence-led investigations with high-level political engagement with governments and law enforcement agencies to put an end to wildlife trafficking.
Almost all states have laws against wildlife crime and the associated money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and corruption. Almost all are signatories to international treaties designed to prevent the illegal trade in wildlife, yet the trade continues to decimate our natural heritage.
Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory. Every day two rhinos are slaughtered for their horns. Organised wildlife crime syndicates are now operating on such an industrial scale that endangered species are under 24-hour armed-guard; fragile habitats are threatened and communities and livelihoods destabilised.
Wildlife trafficking is an estimated USD 20 billion a year criminal industry, with criminal networks that cross nations and continents. It targets the most vulnerable of species, such as tigers, rhinos and elephants that are already on the edge of survival. Only the trafficking of drugs, humans and arms is a more lucrative crime.
The task we have set ourselves is daunting and often dangerous. Our goal is to target those who are profiting most from wildlife crime, evidence their criminality, and enable – and if need be, pressure – governments to take significant action equal to the seriousness of the crime.
The Wildlife Justice Commission works to disrupt and eventually help dismantle the networks that support this destructive industry, so we can ensure justice for our wildlife.
This short film explains how the Wildlife Justice Commission works, what type of organised criminal networks we investigate and why we do what we do. All with one clear objective: to disrupt and help dismantle transnational organised criminal networks trafficking endangered species.
In 2015, the Wildlife Justice Commission was created with the idea to hold governments accountable for failing to address wildlife crime. Our initial focus was on Southeast Asia. The model was to gather actionable evidence, provide it to national authorities in the form of Case Files and if they did not take sufficient action, we could hold a Public Hearing. We did this only once in Vietnam and never needed to use this tool again. Governments, including Vietnam, have always acted upon the evidence that we have provided.
In 2017, we extended our investigations to Africa, and we stepped up our intelligence analysis efforts and cooperation with law enforcement. Between 2017 and 2018, we also took our first steps in policy work by urging governments to address wildlife crime in various international fora.
In 2019 and 2020, we expanded our policy work, and increasingly provided operational support to law enforcement. Years of dedication and hard work came to fruition in 2021 and 2022 with the arrests of multiple wildlife trafficking kingpins (only some of which we can mention publicly) and the disruption of several criminal networks.
Looking ahead, and as described in our Strategic Plan 2021-2026, the Wildlife Justice Commission is now putting more emphasis on strengthening the capacity of our law enforcement partners and empowering governments to effectively enforce the law, aiming to bring us one step closer to a world without wildlife crime.