Tackling the illegal wildlife trade: promises made, progress reported
Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is devastating populations of iconic wildlife species such as rhinos and elephants, as well as lesser known ones such as pangolins, sturgeon and rosewood. As well as being a growing threat to conservation, IWT also has significant socioeconomic impacts. It undermines good governance and facilitates corruption and criminality, whilst hindering economic development at both local and national levels, and so represents a significant human problem as well as a wildlife one. In recognition of this alarming trend, four high-level conferences on tackling IWT have been organised in Botswana, the United Kingdom and Vietnam since 2014. Countries that have participated in these state-led gatherings have made numerous commitments towards four key priorities: eradicating the market for illegal wildlife products, building effective legal frameworks, strengthening law enforcement, and supporting sustainable livelihoods and economic development. This briefing summarises an analysis of progress reported against these commitments. It highlights large disparities in the way IWT funding is spent geographically and in terms of priorities. It also emphasises the need for the effectiveness of IWT investments to be better monitored and evaluated, and for investments to be aligned more clearly with defined needs identified on a country-by-country basis.