A Preliminary Analysis of Raw Rhino Horn Prices in Africa and Asia

The Wildlife Justice Commission was established in March 2015 with the goal of disrupting and helping to dismantle transnational organised criminal networks trading in wildlife, timber and fish. Our first investigation, Operation Phoenix, revealed a major criminal network involved in the trafficking of body parts and derivatives of several CITES Appendix I listed species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers and centred upon the small village of Nhi Khe, Vietnam. The dynamics of rhino horn trafficking in Nhi Khe and an analysis of raw rhino horn were later presented in the Wildlife Justice Commission’s Black Business report published in September 2017.

The Wildlife Justice Commission continued monitoring and recording price data for illegal wildlife products in addition to rhino horn. The recording and analysis of commodity price data is of great value, both internally for the Wildlife Justice Commission as we seek to tackle transnational wildlife crime; and externally, as our assessment can also offer real insight to inform government agencies.

The fluctuations of prices and demand within the market can be monitored.

The data analysis allows us to monetise wildlife crime by attaching a value to commodities in trade, while allowing for an estimation of the potential profits of wildlife criminals. The amount of generated profits could be an indication whether any additional criminal offences, such as money laundering, are committed by those individuals. Documenting this process and disseminating this information to law enforcement agencies could assist in the initiation of additional financial investigations.

This briefing paper provides an analysis of raw rhino horn prices in Africa and Asia, obtained until July 2018, as an update of our the data analysed in our report Black Business that described the dynamics of rhino horn trafficking in Nhi Khe, Vietnam, published in September 2017.

Wildlife Justice Commission

Why is the Wildlife Justice Commission releasing this analysis?

While this preliminary analysis allows for the identification of some crude comparisons between the current value of raw rhino horn in Africa and Asia, it does not yet allow for a meaningful analysis of long-term trends or influencing factors driving changes in the market.

This data capture will form the basis of such analyses that the Wildlife Justice Commission will undertake in the future and report on as part of its continued fight to tackle transnational organised wildlife crime.