About the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference

The UK government is hosting an international conference on illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in London on 11 to 12 October 2018.

The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) not only endangers some of our most iconic species of wildlife, but is a serious organised crime and damages the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest communities.

The 2018 London conference is an opportunity to build on previous efforts, address the underlying issues that facilitate it, and make steps to tackle this criminal trade.

Conference aims

At the London conference, we will strengthen international partnerships across borders and beyond government and focus on 3 key themes:

Tackling IWT as a serious organised crime

  • increase collaboration across continents to tackle IWT-associated illicit financial flows and corruption
  • strengthen networks of IWT law enforcement experts, helping frontline countries to coordinate across the trade routes
  • improve understanding of the linkages to wider security challenges

Building coalitions

  • use levers of influence across illicit trade routes, through increased engagement with the private sector, NGOs, academia and bringing in new partners
  • harness technology
  • share and scale up successful and innovative solutions

Closing markets

  • share common challenges and solutions to make market closure as effective as possible, including tackling displacement to neighbouring countries, and encourage other countries to follow suit
  • share successful approaches for reducing demand for other illegal wildlife products

About the illegal wildlife trade

The illegal wildlife trade is an urgent global issue, which not only threatens some of the world’s most iconic species with extinction, but also damages sustainable economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable people in rural communities. It’s worth up to £17 billion per year and is the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, weapons and human trafficking. The criminals who run this trade do more than damage wildlife – they use networks of corrupt officials and agencies to undermine sustainable development and the rule of law, damaging the livelihood and growth of local communities.

Much has been achieved since the London 2014 conference, but there is more to do. Urgent, united action by the international community is vital to tackle illegal trade and end wildlife crime.

Facts and figures

  • the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth up to £17 billion a year (Source: European Commission, 2015)
  • illegal ivory trade activity worldwide has more than doubled since 2007 (CITES, 2013)
  • most African elephant poaching happens in Central Africa where poaching rates are twice the continental average (CITES, 2013)
  • there have been substantial increases in rhino poaching in Africa in the past ten year – a minimum of 1,338 rhino were killed for their horn across Africa in 2015, the worst on record, and in 2016 the figure is believed to have fallen slightly, but poaching continues to be at an unacceptable level (IUCN,2016)
  • the lives of those working hard to protect endangered wildlife are also at risk; in the last year, over 100 rangers have died in the line of duty, many at the hands of poachers (International Ranger Federation, 2017)
  • there are believed to be as few as 3200 wild tigers remaining across their Asian range, more than a 95% decline from just over 100 years ago (UNODC, 2017)
  • approximately 277,000 pangolins have been illegally traded since 2000, of which 137,870 were traded between 2005 and 2015 (CITES, 2017)