Wildlife trafficking, also known as the illegal wildlife trade (IWT), involves the illicit trade of protected animals, animal parts, and derivatives thereof, including procurement, transport, and distribution, in violation of international or domestic law, and money laundering related to this activity.
Wildlife trafficking-related activity indicators include:
- Prevalence of Import-Export and Logistics Companies
International trade companies, including import-export, freight forwarding, customs clearance, logistics, travel agencies, or similar types of companies may be associated with wildlife trafficking, either to knowingly or unknowingly move animals or animal-associated products or parts, or may be used as front companies for the movement or laundering of illicit proceeds.
- Transactions Involving Wildlife-associated Entities
Private zoos, animal importers, breeders, pet stores, exotic parks, circuses, safari parks, or hunting-related businesses. For example, wildlife trafficking-related SARs referenced hunting, safaris, and zoos.
- Transactions Referencing Wildlife-associated Care or Equipment
Some illicit actors engage in wildlife trafficking conduct transactions related to the purchase or maintenance of enclosures, aquariums, food, poaching-related equipment, large game equipment, or harnesses. Wildlife-related medication or veterinary services also may be associated with the storage or care of illegally trafficked animals. Additionally, transactions appearing to benefit medical or pharmaceutical research could be indicative of animals illegally trafficked for medical research.
- Convergence with Gold, Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Antiquities
Payments for wildlife shipping can be masked as payments to gold, diamonds, or precious metals dealers or, to precious metal trading businesses. Additionally, gold, diamonds, and other precious metals might be used to facilitate payment as a trade for wildlife or to conceal the proceeds of wildlife trafficking. For example, references to jewellery, gems, gold, and precious metals. Wildlife trafficking may be associated with the antiquities trade and illicit actors may make fraudulent claims regarding the age of animal-related items or parts to avoid restrictions related to their trade, such as ivory.
- Overt or Covert References to Wildlife, Wildlife Parts, or Wildlife Products
Illicit actors may overtly mention wildlife or wildlife trafficking in chats or messages on platforms that support both communication and financial transactions, as well as make references in the information field of a funds transfer. Others could use images, symbols, or icons (often linked to the animal or animal part) to covertly mask wildlife trafficking activity.