The political economy of the illegal wildlife trade

4th July 2017
Author: Edward Laws

IWT has grown to become a massive global industry. Various organisations and reports estimate that the trade is worth at least US$19 billion per year and rank IWT as the fourth largest global illegal activity (IFAW 2013). The emerging picture of IWT is that organised criminal syndicates provide the trafficking routes and methods to join together source countries with increasingly wealthy end-user markets, primarily in Asia. As with other forms of transnational crime, those involved use corrupt officials and politicians to evade enforcement and control mechanisms and to protect the illegal chains of custody. This review is based on a rapid assessment of academic, donor and grey literature. A large part of recent scholarship in this area has been produced by international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), or else can be found in peer-reviewed academic journals. Authors do not appear to have engaged with the gender implications of IWT in the context of PEA.

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Suggested Citation

Laws, E. (2017). The political economy of the illegal wildlife trade. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


4th July 2017


Continent: Global