Rhino horn trafficking as a form of transnational organised crime 2012-2021

2022 Global Threat Assessment

Rhino horn trafficking remains a severe problem that needs to be addressed with a new sense of urgency as transnational organised crime. Over the past 10 years, the illegal killing of rhinos and trafficking of their horns has grown as a global criminal enterprise, comprising multiple criminal components dominated by greed and the pursuit of substantial profits.

This threat assessment presents a comprehensive analysis of rhino horn trafficking during the decade from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2021.

It was compiled following analysis of 674 rhino horn seizure incidents collected from open-source reports that occurred globally during this decade, in addition to seven years of criminal intelligence and findings from Wildlife Justice Commission investigations into rhino horn trafficking conducted since 2015, and other open-source research.

This assessment aims to examine the driving forces behind the trade and changes in the criminal landscape. It also considers the threat to rhinos in 2022, with recommendations to help inform interventions to address this issue and ensure the global response is commensurate and appropriately targeted to current and future needs.

The ongoing threat to rhinos is clear but the status quo cannot be maintained for another 10 years. All efforts must be reviewed and recalibrated with a renewed sense of urgency to protect rhinos, respond appropriately to the complex dynamics of the illegal trade, and dismantle the criminal networks.

Olivia Swaak-Goldman

Why is the Wildlife Justice Commission releasing this report?

We hope that this assessment will go some way towards assisting law enforcement agencies working across the illegal rhino horn supply chain to maximise their response and impact in addressing this issue, and to continue to build on the important progress and achievements that are being made.

*Addendum: Please note that a correction has been made to the legend of Figure 2 in the Synopsis and Figure 13 in the full report.

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