Illegal Wildlife Trade, or IWT, is a major driver pushing species to extinction, and it is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Humanity is steering towards a tipping point, with the survival of wildlife closely linked to human well-being. More than ever, we are aware of the consequences should we fail. Loss of biodiversity, collapse of food chains and ecosystems, loss of livelihoods, evaded funds and taxes for governments, the spread of zoonotic diseases, and raised security issues can all be consequences of IWT. As always, it will be the communities most dependent on natural resources that will be affected hardest by these changes.
By now considered the fourth largest illegal trade on a global scale, after arms, drugs and human trafficking, the sheer volume of wildlife and wildlife products entering the IWT supply chain is deeply concerning, which is why every one of our efforts to combat IWT matters. Recent events have shown how closely linked human health is to the health of wildlife and ecosystems, and how vulnerable our well-being and our economies are to certain external threats, seeing the perpetually growing global exchange of goods and information so many businesses and consumers nowadays depend on. About 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases are of a zoonotic origin, which demands caution whenever wildlife is handled. It also requires a rigorous monitoring of legal wildlife trade by adhering to international agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in order to ensure that the trade is sustainable, well-regulated, and animal welfare is protected. The clandestine and illicit operations of IWT in contrast do not allow for any of the activities along the supply chain to be regulated, which does not only contribute to the overexploitation of wildlife, but consequently puts humans at risk as well. Preventing the threats that IWT entails, requires not only a form of collaboration that goes beyond our national borders, but also being at the cutting edge of project design based on the best information available to efficiently identify and address existing gaps.
This website promotes this spirit of collaboration and information sharing, by providing an IWT Project Map and Database of current and past counter-IWT projects worldwide, in order to facilitate future project development and donor coordination. Whereas the projects are limited mainly to Southeast Asia for now, the endeavour is to populate the map and database with counter-IWT projects implemented on a global scale in the future.