Combatting the Illegal Wildlife Trade in West and Central Africa

This project conducted the first regional knowledge and capacity assessment on illicit financial flows connected to the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in West and Central Africa.




Main Image Credit Paulette Sinclair / Alamy Stock Photo


Over the past five years, several countries in West and Central Africa have emerged as the largest source and transit hubs for forest elephant ivory, pangolin scales and rosewood in the global illegal wildlife trade (IWT). The industrial scale of the multi-ton, multi-product seizures originating in the region clearly demonstrates that profit-driven organised crime groups are running the trade. Yet while the significance of the region in global IWT flows is increasingly recognised, very little is known about the financial aspects of these criminal operations.

Increasing the use of financial investigations in IWT cases has been recognised as a priority by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). However, the financial dynamics of IWT remain underexplored. This project will produce the first high-level knowledge and capacity assessment of the ability to tackle IWT using financial tools in West Africa.

Main Image Credit Paulette Sinclair / Alamy Stock Photo

Aims and objectives

Based on 89 interviews with key stakeholders in West and Central Africa and a survey of 12 out of 17 financial intelligence units based in the member states of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), this project assesses the extent to which the financial dimensions of IWT are investigated in the region.

Working with GIABA, we analyse the legislative, institutional and inter-agency frameworks present in West Africa for investigating the financial dimensions of IWT. The final report will make recommendations to support the overarching objectives of the West Africa Strategy on Combatting Wildlife Crime (WASCWC), which is to be adopted by ECOWAS heads of state in 2021.

The project also responds to the FATF’s upcoming 2021 review of global financial action against IWT, following its call for the greater use of financial investigations in wildlife cases.

Supported by

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit

    This research was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the ‘Partnership Against Poaching and the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa and Asia’.

Project output


Access the key publication for this project.

Illegal Wildlife Trade and Financial Investigations in West Africa


Explore related projects

Following the Money: Disrupting Wildlife-Linked Illicit Financial Flows in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Following the Money II: Capacity-Building to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade in East and Southern Africa

Combatting Wildlife Crime in Uganda