Using Closed Illegal Wildlife Trade Cases to Generate New Financial Intelligence

Supporting the use of case reviews to improve investigative capacity, generate new financial intelligence, and boost the prosecution of high-value wildlife cases in East and Southern Africa.

Since 2016, RUSI has pioneered the mainstreaming of financial approaches to investigating illegal wildlife trade. This project implements a Financial Action Task Force recommendation that closed illegal wildlife trade (IWT) cases should be revisited to develop financial intelligence and build investigation skills.

Over the course of two years, RUSI is working with trusted local and international partners to implement a range of activities in Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia. These include the identification and analysis of closed cases, multi-agency capacity-building workshops for enforcement and prosecution actors, the development of best practice materials, and the cross-sector dissemination of new financial typologies for IWT.


  • UK Government's IWT Challenge Fund

    Funded by the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

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Project partners include the Environmental Investigation Agency, United for Wildlife, Wildlife Crime Prevention, Rooikat Trust, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, TRAFFIC and WildAid, as well as private sector actors Refinitiv and Western Union.

Aims and objectives

The long-term goal of this project is to reduce IWT and thereby alleviate poverty in Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia through more effective public-sector investigation and prosecution, as well as private-sector disruption, of financial crimes linked to IWT.

RUSI is working with local partners to conduct multi-agency case review workshops which will strengthen enforcement capacity and develop train-the-trainer financial investigation skills, as well as developing and disseminating best practice using this approach and creating and distributing new financial intelligence. These outcomes will help to strengthen IWT investigations and prosecutions in the longer term.


The project has formally partnered with the Environmental Investigation Agency, United for Wildlife, Wildlife Crime Prevention, Rooikat Trust, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Refinitiv and Western Union. Additionally, the project has benefitted from inputs from TRAFFIC and WildAid.


RUSI is carrying out the following as part of this project:

  • Co-creating case selection criteria for cases to be used in training scenarios.
  • Undertaking financial and gender analysis of closed cases.
  • Delivering four multi-agency workshops in Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia.
  • Developing a best practice guide to using closed cases to strengthen capacity.
  • Creating new financial typologies for IWT and disseminating these to private sector partners to strengthen anti-money laundering detection systems.
  • Researching and analysing the gendered perpetration and perceptions of wildlife crime.
  • Hosting a regional public sector forum and public-private webinar to disseminate lessons learned and new typologies.


Based on the criteria selected, two cases were identified per country in 2022, and training scenarios were developed. Four case review workshops were subsequently held in October 2022 and March 2023 to strengthen capacity across key IWT source and transit jurisdictions, benefitting 90 law enforcement officers from 28 public sector agencies in Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia.

The workshops have helped identify fresh financial intelligence which will be shared with the private sector to improve anti-money laundering monitoring and detection, alongside the best practice report which is in development.

The project commenced in late 2021 and will end in late 2023.

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