The Illegal Wildlife Trade

  • Rebecca W. Y. WongEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Green Criminology book series (PSGC)


This chapter contextualizes the development of green criminology and the study of environmental crime. In specific, it examines the stages of the illegal wildlife trade: (1) poaching, (2) smuggling, (3) processing, and (4) online distribution.


Green criminology Environmental crime Illegal wildlife trade Smuggling Poaching Corruption 


  1. Agger, K., & Hutson, J. (2013). Kony’s ivory: How elephant poaching in Congo helps support the Lord’s Resistance Army. Retrieved from Enough Project.
  2. Ahmed, A. (2010). Imperilled custodian of the night: A study on illegal trade, trapping and use of owls in India. Retrieved from
  3. Alves, R. R. N., Lima, J. R. F., & Araújo, H. F. (2013). The live bird trade in Brazil and its conservation implications: An overview. Bird Conservation International, 23(1), 53–65. Scholar
  4. Arreguín-Sánchez, F., del Monte-Luna, P., Zetina-Rejón, M. J., & Albáñez-Lucero, M. O. (2017). The Gulf of California large marine ecosystem: Fisheries and other natural resources. Environmental Development, 22, 71–77. Scholar
  5. Auliya, M., Altherr, S., Ariano-Sanchez, D., Baard, E. H., Brown, C., Brown, R. M., … & Ziegler, T. (2016). Trade in live reptiles, its impact on wild populations, and the role of the European market. Biological Conservation, 204, 103–119. Scholar
  6. Ayling, J. (2013). What sustains wildlife crime? Rhino horn trading and the resilience of criminal networks. Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 16(1), 57–80. Scholar
  7. Beirne, P. (1995). The use and abuse of animals in criminology: A brief history and current review. Social Justice, 22(1 [59]), 5–31. Retrieved from
  8. Bennett, E. L. (2015). Another inconvenient truth: The failure of enforcement systems to save charismatic species. In G. Wuerthner, E. Crist, & T. Butler (Eds.), Protecting the wild (pp. 189–193). Washington, DC: Island Press/Center for Resource Economics. Scholar
  9. Bodeo-Lomicky, A., & Whittenbury, W. (2015). Why the extinction of the vaquita should matter to all of us—A teenager’s perspective. Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology, 8, 3–5.Google Scholar
  10. Brack, D., & Hayman, G. (2002). International environmental crime: The nature and control of environmental black markets. Retrieved from Royal Institute of International Affairs.
  11. C4ADS. (2017). Hooked: How demand for a protected fish lined the pockets of Mexican cartels & sunk the future of an endangered porpoise species. Retrieved from
  12. Cao Ngoc, A., & Wyatt, T. (2013). A green criminological exploration of illegal wildlife trade in. Asian Journal of Criminology, 8(2), 129–142. Scholar
  13. Capel, P. D., & Giger, W. (1988). The Sandoz/Rhine accident. In G. Angeletti & A. Bjørseth (Eds.), Organic micropollutants in the aquatic environment (pp. 189–194). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Scholar
  14. Caplog Group, & EDF Mexico. (2014). China’s luxury seafood demand and Mexico’s fisheries. Retrieved from
  15. Cisneros-Mata, M. A., Montemayor-López, G., & Román-Rodríguez, M. J. (1995). Life history and conservation of Totoaba macdonaldi. Conservation Biology, 9(4), 806–814. Scholar
  16. Corcoran, B. (2018, March 26). Grace Mugabe links to trade under investigation. The Irish Times. Retrieved from
  17. Crosta, A., & Sutherland, K. (2017). Investigating the Southeast China totoaba maw trade as this traditional product is causing the extinction of both the vaquita and the totoaba. Retrieved from Elephant Action League.
  18. Curtis, G. E., Elan, S. L., Hudson, R. A., & Kollars, N. A. (2002). Transnational activities of Chinese crime organizations. Trends in Organized Crime, 7(3), 19–57. Scholar
  19. Duffy, R., & St John, F. (2013). Poverty, and trafficking: What are the links? Evidence on demand.
  20. Elliott, L. (2007). Transnational environmental crime in the Asia Pacific: An ‘un (der) securitized’ security problem? The Pacific Review, 20(4), 499–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Environmental Investigation Agency. (2010). OPEN SEASON: The burgeoning illegal ivory trade in Tanzania and Zambia. Retrieved from
  22. Environmental Investigation Agency. (2013). Vietnam’s illegal rhino horn trade: Undermining the effectiveness of CITES. Retrieved from
  23. Environmental Investigation Agency. (2014). Vanishing point: Criminality, and the devastation of Tanzania’s elephants. Retrieved from
  24. Environmental Investigation Agency. (2016). The dirty secret of Japan’s illegal ivory trade. Retrieved from
  25. Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection. (2016). Presentan SEDENA y PROFEPA ante El MPF a 2 Personas por Posesión de 6 Buches de Totoaba, en Baja California. Retrieved from
  26. Felbab-Brown, V. (2011). The disappearing act: The illicit trade in wildlife in Asia. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  27. Guangzhou History. (2008). Ivory Craver Fung Keung Hap. Retrieved from
  28. Hastie, J., & McCrea-Steele, T. (2014). Wanted—dead or alive: Exposing online wildlife trade. Retrieved from
  29. Hou, L. (2018, April 3). Pollution? Blame uptick in production. China Daily. Retrieved from
  30. Invisible Children, & The Resolve LRA Crisis Tracker. (2012). LRA crisis tracker 2012 annual security brief. Retrieved from
  31. Jaramillo‐Legorreta, A., Cardenas‐Hinojosa, G., Nieto‐Garcia, E., Rojas‐Bracho, L., Hoef, J. V., Moore, J., … & Taylor, B. (2016). Passive acoustic monitoring of the decline of Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita. Conservation Biology, 31(1), 183–191. Scholar
  32. Kat, P. (2013). Rhino in Kruger National Park—connivance, RENAMO and Marenge diamonds? Retrieved from
  33. Kitade, T. (2017). An updated review of online trade in Japan. Retrieved from
  34. Knapp, E. J. (2012). Why poaching pays: A summary of risks and benefits illegal hunters face in Western Serengeti Tanzania. Tropical Conservation Science, 5(4), 434–445. Scholar
  35. Lavorgna, A. (2014). Wildlife trafficking in the Internet age. Crime Science, 3(1), 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lin, J. (2005). Tackling Southeast Asia’s illegal wildlife trade. Sybil, 9, 191.Google Scholar
  37. Lynch, M. J. (1990). The greening of criminology: A perspective on the 1990s. The Critical Criminologist, 2(3), 1–4.Google Scholar
  38. Lynch, M. J., & Stretesky, P. B. (2014). Exploring. Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  39. Martini, M. (2013). Wildlife crime and corruption. Retrieved from U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center.
  40. McGarrity. (2015). When the wind blows: What’s behind’s better air? Retrieved from
  41. Moreto, W. D., & Lemieux, A. M. (2015). Poaching in Uganda: Perspectives of law enforcement rangers. Deviant Behavior, 36(11), 853–873. Scholar
  42. Nellemann, C., Henriksen, R., Raxter, P., Ash, N., & Mrema, E. (2014). The environmental crime crisis: Threats to sustainable development from illegal exploitation and trade in wildlife and forest resources. Retrieved from UNEP.
  43. Nurse, A. (2013). Privatising the green police: The role of NGOs in wildlife. Crime, Law and Social Change, 59(3), 305–318. Scholar
  44. Ondoua, O. G., Beodo, M. E., Mambo, M. J. C., Jiagho, R., Usongo, L., & Williamson, E. A. (2017). An assessment of poaching and wildlife trafficking in the Garamba-Bili-Chinko transboundary landscape. Retrieved from
  45. Pham, J. P. (2013). Poaching peace and security. Retrieved from http://www.atlanticcouncilorg/blogs/new-atlanticist/-peace-and-security.
  46. Pires, S. F. (2012). The illegal parrot trade: A literature review. Global Crime, 13(3), 176–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pires, S. F., & Clarke, R. V. (2011). Sequential foraging, itinerant fences and parrot poaching in Bolivia. British Journal of Criminology, 51(2), 314–335. Scholar
  48. Pires, S., & Clarke, R. V. (2012). Are parrots CRAVED? An analysis of parrot poaching in Mexico. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49(1), 122–146. Scholar
  49. Pires, S. F., & Moreto, W. D. (2011). Preventing wildlife crimes: Solutions that can overcome the ‘tragedy of the commons’. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 17(2), 101–123. Scholar
  50. Pires, S. F., Schneider, J. L., & Herrera, M. (2016). Organized crime or crime that is organized? The parrot trade in the neotropics. Trends in Organized Crime, 19(1), 4–20. Scholar
  51. Rao, M., Myint, T., Zaw, T., & Htun, S. (2005). Hunting patterns in tropical forests adjoining the Hkakaborazi National Park, North. Oryx, 39(3). Scholar
  52. Reuter, P., & O’Regan, D. (2017). Smuggling wildlife in the Americas: Scale, methods, and links to other organised crimes. Global Crime, 18(2), 77–99. Scholar
  53. Rounds, Z., Huang, H., & Gu, R. (2016, October 13). What do Chinese in South Africa think of the ivory trade. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from
  54. Rucevska, I., Nellemann, C., Isarin, N., Yang, W., Liu, N., Yu, K., … & Bisschop, L. (2017). Waste crime–waste risks: Gaps in meeting the global waste challenge. A UNEP rapid response assessment. Retrieved from GRID-Arendal.
  55. Save the Elephants. (2015). Hong Kong’s more items for sale than in any other city in the world. Retrieved from
  56. Sollund, R. (2013). Animal trafficking and trade: Abuse and species injustice. In Emerging issues in Green Criminology (pp. 72–92). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. South, N., & Wyatt, T. (2011). Comparing illicit trades in wildlife and drugs: An exploratory study. Deviant Behavior, 32(6), 538–561. Scholar
  58. Spapens, T., & Huisman, W. (2016). Tackling cross-border environmental crime: A ‘wicked problem.’ In T. Spapens, R. White, & W. Huisman (Eds.), Environmental crime in transnational context: Global issues in green enforcement and criminology (pp. 27–42). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Google Scholar
  59. Spapens, T., White, R., & Huisman, W. (Eds.). (2016). Environmental crime in transnational context: Global issues in green enforcement and criminology. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Google Scholar
  60. Stanway, D. (2018, January 18). Cities in China’s Hebei province still top list of smoggiest places. Reuters. Retrieved from
  61. Tai Kung Net. (2016). Sunset industry. Retrieved from
  62. Taylor, B. L., Rojas‐Bracho, L., Moore, J., Jaramillo‐Legorreta, A., Ver Hoef, J. M., Cardenas‐Hinojosa, G., … & Hammond, P. S. (2016). Extinction is imminent for Mexico’s endemic porpoise unless fishery bycatch is eliminated. Conservation Letters, 10(5), 588–595. Scholar
  63. Thomas, L., Jaramillo-Legorreta, A., Cardenas-Hinojosa, G., Nieto-Garcia, E., Rojas-Bracho, L., Ver Hoef, J. M., … & Tregenza, N. (2017). Last call: Passive acoustic monitoring shows continued rapid decline of critically endangered vaquita. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(5), EL512-EL517.Google Scholar
  64. UNEP, CITES, IUCN, & TRAFFIC. (2013). Elephants in the dust—The African elephant crisis. Retrieved from
  65. UNODC. (2012). Wildlife and forest crime: Analytic toolkit revised edition. Retrieved from
  66. UNODC. (2016). World wildlife crime report: Trafficking in protected species. Retrieved from
  67. Valenzuela-Quiñonez, F., Arreguín-Sánchez, F., Salas-Márquez, S., García-De León, F. J., Garza, J. C., Román-Rodríguez, M. J., & De-Anda-Montañez, J. A. (2015). Critically endangered totoaba Totoaba macdonaldi: Signs of recovery and potential threats after a population collapse. Endangered Species Research, 29(1), 1–11. Scholar
  68. van Uhm, D. P. (2016). Monkey business: The illegal trade in Barbary macaques. Journal of Trafficking, Organized Crime and Security, 2(1), 36–49.Google Scholar
  69. van Uhm, D. P., & Moreto, W. D. (2017). Corruption within the illegal wildlife trade: A symbiotic and antithetical enterprise. The British Journal of Criminology.
  70. van Uhm, D., & Siegel, D. (2016). The illegal trade in black caviar. Trends in Organized Crime, 19(1), 67–87. Scholar
  71. Vira, V., Ewing, T., & Miller, J. (2014). Out of Africa: Mapping the global trade in illicit elephant. Retrieved from C4ADS.!project-highlights/c21l1.
  72. von Essen, E., Hansen, H. P., Nordström Källström, H., Peterson, M. N., & Peterson, T. R. (2014). Deconstructing the poaching phenomenon: A review of typologies for understanding illegal hunting. The British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 632–651. Scholar
  73. Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Ahlquist, D., & Li, J. (2013). E-waste in China: A Country report (StEP Green Paper Series). Retrieved from
  74. Warchol, G. L. (2004). The transnational illegal wildlife trade. Criminal Justice Studies, 17(1), 57–73. Scholar
  75. Warchol, G., & Harrington, M. (2016). Exploring the dynamics of South Africa’s illegal abalone trade via routine activities theory. Trends in Organized Crime, 19(1), 21–41. Scholar
  76. White, R. D. (2008). Crimes against nature: Environmental criminology and ecological justice. Cullompton: Willan Publishing. Google Scholar
  77. White, R. D. (2011). Transnational environmental crime: Toward an eco-global criminology. London: Routledge. Google Scholar
  78. Williams, P. (2001). Transnational criminal networks. Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, 1382, 61.Google Scholar
  79. Wong, R. W. Y. (2016). The role of in the illegal purchase of protected wildlife in China. Deviant Behavior, 38(11), 1290–1302. Scholar
  80. World Wildlife Fund. (2016). How to ban the trade in Hong Kong beginning today. Retrieved from
  81. Wyatt, T. (2009). Exploring the organization of Russia Far East’s illegal wildlife trade: Two case studies of the illegal fur and illegal falcon trades. Global Crime, 10(1–2), 144–154. Scholar
  82. Wyatt, T. (2013). The local context of transnational wildlife trafficking: The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. In R. Walters, S. D. Westerhuis, & T. Wyatt (Eds.), Emerging issues in green criminology (pp. 108–123). London: Palgrave Macmillan. Scholar
  83. Wyatt, T., & Cao Ngoc, A. (2015). Corruption and wildlife trafficking. U4 issue. Retrieved from Anti-Corruption Resource Centre.
  84. Wyatt, T., Johnson, K., Hunter, L., George, R., & Gunter, R. (2018). Corruption and wildlife trafficking: Three case studies involving Asia. Asian Journal of Criminology, 13(1), 35–55. Scholar
  85. Xiao, Y., Guan, J., & Xu, L. (2017). Wildlife cybercrime in China: E-commerce and monitoring in 2016. Retrieved from
  86. Xiao, Y., & Wang, J. (2015, March). Moving target: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China. Briefing Paper. Retrieved from TRAFFIC.
  87. Zhou, Q. (2016). China’s plans for near complete ban on ivory business ‘well received’. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations