Illegal Wildlife Trade and Illicit Finance in the UK

Read Full Report(PDF 3MB)

Courtesy of David Tipling Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

This Whitehall Report is the first independent study to address the UK’s exposure and response to IWT-linked illicit finance.

The UK is a leading advocate of the need to ‘follow the money’ linked to illegal wildlife trade (IWT) on the international stage. Yet, to date, little focus has been placed on examining the UK’s domestic record in this area. This report is the first independent study to address the UK’s exposure and response to IWT-linked illicit finance, offering recommendations to bolster enforcement action.

Based on an open-source literature review, analysis of government enforcement data, a focused ‘call for evidence’ and 40 semi-structured interviews, the report assesses the UK’s record in relation to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) 2020 recommendation that countries assess their exposure to IWT-linked illicit finance; ensure legal powers exist to bring financial charges in relation to IWT offending; and undertake greater numbers of parallel financial investigations in IWT cases.

Chief Inspector Kevin Kelly and Head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit said of RUSI's research:

Today is a huge step forward as we’re getting wildlife crime and the illegal wildlife trade viewed for the serious and significant crime type that it is. IWT is often closely linked to traditional serious and organised crime types if we look hard enough and the exploitation of animals is a global concern. Its working with the likes of RUSI who help us get what we see in the operational field into the eyes of the governments and the public. I welcome this report and look forward to working with RUSI in the future as we fight against wildlife crime.

Chief Inspector Kevin Kelly

Head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit

Independent Assessment of Illegal Wildlife Trade in the UK

Commissioned by the Home Office, RUSI is leading an independent assessment of the UK’s performance on tackling financial crime related to illegal wildlife trade (IWT).


Alexandria Reid

Associate Fellow | SHOC Network Member - Researcher

View profile

Cathy Haenlein

Director of Organised Crime and Policing Studies

Organised Crime and Policing

View profile


Explore our related content