General Lessons from the Analysis of International Funding to Tackle Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife

Introduction: A key pillar of the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) is to enhance international donor coordination. To accomplish this, in 2016 the GWP established a coordination platform for international donors to share knowledge on their projects that combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT), discuss IWT related issues, and collaborate. To date, GWP organized six face-to-face meetings1 and ten virtual sessions2. These periodic meetings facilitated donor discussions on their respective IWT-initiatives, funding programs, and upcoming events. In 2016, the GWP collected data on over 1,100 projects from 24 international donors that served as the basis for the Analysis of International Funding to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade. This Analysis showed that from 2010-2016, over USD 1.3 billion was committed by international donors to combat IWT in Africa and Asia, equivalent to approximately USD 190 million per year. In 2017, the GWP created an e-Book to showcase this analysis in an interactive format and featured it in the WBG’s mobile data platform Spatial Agent. This analysis provided information on who, does what, where.

IWT Donor Working Group: In 2018, the GWP convened a working group to better understand how these international donor-funded projects were implemented and derive general lessons in the form of case studies3 The working group consisted of 11 donors: EC DEVCO (+ CITES implemented project), GEF, Germany, UK DEFRA, UNDP, USAID, USFWS, Vulcan, World Bank, WCS, and ZSL. The working group met 13 times and collectively developed 20 case studies covering all six IWT interventions4. The 20 case studies captured lessons from projects in 14 countries and six projects that were regional/global, covering various countries in Africa and Asia. Project leaders for several case studies presented on project activities, challenges, donor coordination, and lessons learned to the working group. Comparative analysis was completed to assess case studies across intervention types, geographies, and type of executing partner to identify lessons which can inform future investments. The 20 case studies will be published and disseminated through GWP communications channels, with 10 case studies showcased as interactive Story Maps. In addition, this analysis will be captured in the e-Book which will include the updated IWT Donor Portfolio Analysis (with 2018 data). The analysis captured below summarizes the general lessons learned, trends, and recommendations that donors can consider when designing and funding interventions to combat IWT.

Organization / Country IWT FUnding (US$ millions) Countries Project Title Key IWT Intervention
EC / CITES 0.4 Central African Republic Reducing the illegal killing of elephants and other wildlife species in Aires Protégées de Dzanga-Sangha, C.A.R. LE/PA
GEF / UNDP 16.7 Namibia Strengthening the Protected Area System in Namibia PL/LE/SL
GEF / UNDP 6.0 Indonesia Enhancing the Protected Area System in Sulawesi (E-PASS) for Biodiversity Conservation PA/PL/RA
Germany 12.6 Global Combating Poaching and the Illegal Wildlife Trade (Ivory, Rhino Horn) in Africa and Asia (Polifund) CA/PA/SL
Germany 0.2 Africa Biosphere Reserves as Model Regions for Anti-Poaching in Africa (BRAPA) RA
UK 0.2 Kenya Technology and Innovation Against Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking LE/RA
UK0.3 Malawi Developing law enforcement capability in Malawi to combat wildlife crimeLE
US 8.0 Asia (Thailand, Indonesia) ARREST: Law Enforcement & Wildlife Enforcement Networks in Southeast Asia LE
US 2.0 China, Thailand, Vietnam ARREST: Private Sector Engagement to Curb the Availability of Wildlife Products Online CA
US 5.0Kenya Resilient Community Conservancies Program (USAID Support to The Northern Rangelands Trust - NRT) SL/PA
Vulcan 0.3 Global Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) LE
Vulcan N/A Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, and China The Ivory Game CA
World Bank39.0 Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia (SAWEN) PA/PL/LE/SL
World Bank8.0 Mozambique Mozambique Conservation Areas for Biodiversity and Development ProjectPA/PL/LE/SL
World Bank39.0 Laos Second Lao Environment & Social Project (LENS2)SL/PA
WCS 1.7Indonesia Indonesia's Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) LE/PA/CA
WCS 0.9 Republic of Congo Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) in the Republic of Congo LE/PA/CA
ZSL4.4 Cameroon, Kenya, Benin Supporting and building capacity of law enforcement agents through Conservation Oriented Policing Skills (C.O.P.S.) LE/PA
ZSL 4.0Nepal Integrated solutions to combatting wildlife trafficking in Nepal’s Shivalik Hills LE/PL/PA/SL/RA

General lessons learned to consider for future interventions

  1. Policy/Legislation: Many source, transit, and demand countries do not consider IWT a serious crime, lack adequate legal systems and the capacity to prosecute and convict environmental criminals. Having adequate laws, policies, and regulations in place that reflect the seriousness of this issue, and the understanding and tools of how to apply them, is essential to tilting the risk/reward equation for those involved in IWT. Drafting and passing legislation often requires significant time and is dependent on a constantly changing political landscape. Important success factors include:
    1. Engage legislators to increase their awareness of value of conservation, nature-based tourism, and IWT specific issues to gain political, legal, and financial support to preserve wildlife and combat IWT. International and domestic engagement through various forums, including CITES and knowledge exchanges, can increase awareness and promote debate of IWT issues.
    2. Training and mentoring prosecutors in wildlife cases and judges and empowering them with adequate tools to effectively work their caseloads can help increase capacity to prosecute and convict criminals.

    WBG MozBio project (#15) in Mozambique supported the amendment of Conservation law 056/2017 and publication of its regulation 89/2017 and revision of decree that created the national administration of conservation areas (ANAC) and regularized two tourism concessions as part of efforts to promote tourism in conservation areas

  2. Law enforcement: Where laws are in place, capacity is often insufficient to properly enforce them in the field. Low capacity levels are exacerbated by lack of resources (i.e. infrastructure, personnel, equipment, and technical) and incentives to uphold the law (complicated bureaucracies, weak leadership commitment, corruption, and dangerous conditions faced by front-line staff dealing with powerful organized criminal networks). Important success factors include:
    1. Build relationships and develop trust:
      1. Cooperation with law enforcement personnel in country- and across countries/ regions (i.e. police, customs, CITES, financial intelligence units (FIUs), anti-corruption commissions, etc.) can help enhance understanding of trafficking networks and deploy resources to deter criminals. Experiences and resources from regional wildlife enforcement networks, intergovernmental organizations (ICCWC), and donors are available to support cross border enforcement plans and operations. Engaging FIUs and tax inspectors can help shut off funding sources used for IWT activities.
      2. WCS WCU project (#17) in Indonesia involves collaboration with civil society to complement government efforts. In 2017, the WCU supported over one hundred successful sting operations, achieving a 95% conviction rate. In the Leuser landscape, covering Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, the WCU helped dismantle the tiger trafficking network and significantly reduced the killing of tigers.Collaboration with civil society is critical to complement government efforts (i.e. intelligence, informants, sting operations, communications, mapping, and networking tools).

    WCS WCU project (#17) in Indonesia involves collaboration with civil society to complement government efforts. In 2017, the WCU supported over one hundred successful sting operations, achieving a 95% conviction rate. In the Leuser landscape, covering Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, the WCU helped dismantle the tiger trafficking network and significantly reduced the killing of tigers.

  3. Tailor interventions to existing capacity (i.e. improve core policing skills, leverage technical equipment already available, etc.) to facilitate deployment and promote ownership of donor funded activities and reduce need for continuous external support.
  4. Build comprehensive organizational capacity rather than providing activity-based training to concerned staff. In the short-term, use of vetted personnel for targeted law enforcement operations, with adequate qualifications and mentoring can be more effective than trying to influence the entire system. Over the long-term, IWT should be embedded in mandatory training programs in the national police academy and other mandated capacity development activities to sensitize broader groups of stakeholders.
  • Protected area management: Although over the last few decades an increasing number of countries designated significant portions of their territory as protected areas (PAs), many PAs in Africa and Asia are still not effectively managed or protected only on paper. The sheer size and remote nature of PAs translate to large financial resources required to protect and grow these natural assets. Sustainable funding for PAs is a persistent challenge. Important success factors include:
    1. Consider PAs part of a national system with the legal, policy, governance, and financial mechanisms to support their effective management (i.e. conservation area laws, concessions, management agreements, etc.). Further, institutions responsible for managing these national assets require financial and technical resources to operate.
    2. Deploy cost-effective solutions (i.e. SMART Conservation Tools) to support rangers and other stakeholders protect wildlife and its habitat. Wildlife provide critical ecological services and underpin tourism in many countries.
    3. Establish partnerships across sectors and with local communities, NGOs, and the private sector to bring innovative technical and financial solutions to conserve PAs and promote inclusive economic development. Nature-based tourism that engages local communities and achieves actual conservation results can help countries preserve their wildlife and provide sustainable livelihoods. However, it is not a solution for all conservation areas and needs to be supported by business plans, market assessments, and a robust supply chain that minimize environmental and social impacts.
    4. Explore opportunities to create or strengthen landscape and transnational conservation areas beyond single PAs and buffer zones to achieve greater ecological and economic benefits. Integration of PAs across domestic and transnational portfolios can help to diversify donor support and create opportunities (i.e. tourism circuit, biodiversity management, monitoring, etc.). For landscape and cross-border networks to become operational, the strategic issues must be linked to action on the ground for benefits to be harnessed. Strengthening of in-country and regional institutions can help achieve common goals and objective.

    GEF/UNDP Namibia Protected Area project (#2) contributed to improved PA management effectiveness across 98 percent of the PA network, stronger PA financing and investment, and more land managed for conservation and community benefits. The GEF/UNDP PA support in Namibia highlights the importance of effectively sequencing projects to generate large-scale impacts and secure long-term environmental benefits.

  • Communications and awareness (including demand reduction/behavior change): Communications is an important but often overlooked component for many IWT projects. Development and rollout of a comprehensive communications strategy is needed to reverse prevailing attitudes that negatively impact wildlife. Strategic communications and outreach can have high multiplier effects beyond project confines. For demand reduction/behavior change interventions, use of media and advertising resources has provided critical to the success of campaigns to reduce consumption of protected wildlife in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. By informing consumers of the facts and educating them of the consequences of their actions, with support of key opinion leaders, significant change in consumer behavior can be achieved. Important success factors include:
    1. Identification of target consumer groups by assessing demographics, social status, education, and geography. Use insights from existing research on wildlife consumption as well as research on consumer markets, especially the luxury goods market.
    2. Evaluate key drivers that encourage or discourage consumer behavior and apply commercial marketing techniques and insights from academic research on manipulating consumer choices to demand reduction campaigns and engage celebrities, governments, peers, children, etc.; deploy optimal mix of communications channels such as social media, traditional media, education systems, and the government distribution channels
    3. Apply evaluations tools to monitor impact and changes in behavior over time (with indicators and timeframes)

    Germany Polifund project (#4) in Africa, China, and Vietnam reduced demand among mainly Asian consumers through target group specific campaigns. It launched a "Zero-Tolerance" campaign in partnership with Alibaba and other e-commerce. The campaign got retweeted 230,000 times within three weeks of launch. Cooperation with their security personnel led to continuous filtering and deletion of suspicious adds on e-commerce platforms, resulting in a drop from 50,000 adds per month in 2012 to 10,000 per month in 2013. Donor coordination for this project (USAID/UK) ensured complementarity and avoided duplication.

  • Sustainable use and alternative livelihoods: Lack of ownership and shared benefits of wildlife hinders support of local communities as front-line defenders for wildlife. Indigenous peoples and local communities are affected by insecurity and the depletion of important livelihood and economic assets, while often being excluded from the benefits of conservation and suffering from human-wildlife conflicts. On the other hand, the long-term survival of wildlife populations, and the success of interventions to combat IWT, will depend to a large extent on the engagement of those who live with wildlife populations. Still many communities are not actively engaged in wildlife management, including nature-based tourism. In some instances, communities are exploited by criminals and crime facilitators and driven to serve as low-level poachers. Engaging local communities for conservation and combating IWT can offer many conservation and development benefits that complement government-led initiatives. Community-based conservation investments can improve livelihoods and have a direct impact on reducing the illegal killing of wildlife. Well-governed, independent community institutions are the foundation of successful community conservation and support a holistic approach to conservation. Important success factors include:
    1. Engage communities on governance boards to provide oversight, local ownership, and strengthen conservancy institutions. A peer-led process that involves respective chairpersons of the community institutions can help resolve complex and deep-rooted environmental and social challenges.
    2. Enlist community conservancy rangers and eco-guards into wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching programs to address threats from poachers and broader security monitoring.
    3. Develop enterprises to generate alternative economic opportunities and jobs for conservancies, especially women and youth; community-based natural resource management can help alleviate pressures on wildlife habitats and increase tolerance and coexistence with wildlife (support transition from pastoralism to tourism-based economy).
    4. Increase awareness of value and benefits of wildlife through educational programs.
    5. Provide livelihood support in return for voluntary agreements to conserve wildlife.

    US Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) project (#10) expanded economic opportunities for conservancy communities anchored in biodiversity and reduced wildlife trafficking across conservancies. In 2012, 112 elephants were poached for their ivory; in 2017, only 8 were poached, the lowest level in NRT conservancies in 10 years. Diversified tourism opportunities produce an average US$0.6 million income annually. As of July 2018, ecotourism revenue was up 20% over 2017 levels in NRT-supported communities, providing jobs and business opportunities and support for local social projects.

  • Research and assessment: Innovative technology and analytical data tools are revolutionizing industries and driving efficiencies. Although there has been an increase in use of technology and integrated data management solutions for IWT, many wildlife conservation efforts are still low tech and unsophisticated. Lack of timely and comprehensive data and information, disconnected data systems, use of paper systems, slow procedures, limit the type and amount of data and information that is captured real time and used to inform management decisions. Still, an increase in use of data solutions, survey techniques, and technology used to combat IWT and support wildlife management are being used. Example technology used include: (i) aircraft surveillance; (ii) drones; (iii) tracking devices (monitored microchip/radio transmitters); (iv) camera traps; (v) spatial monitoring/cyber tracking tools; (vi) remote sensing; and (vii) various global positioning systems (GPS devices). Various exploratory methodologies are also being considered, for DNA analysis, use of trained animals to search for wildlife products in transportation hubs, to mobile solutions that leverage “the cloud”. Important success factors include:
    1. Design, develop and deploy technological solutions that complement existing non-technological capabilities. Effective management systems, trained staff, and basic skills are needed before advanced technological solutions and equipment can be adopted.
    2. Obtain guidance and requirements from those closest to IWT issues (i.e. protected area managers and on-the-ground staff) rather than relying on intermediaries. Those who understand the issues and experience the challenges daily are often best positioned to identify the problem that the technological solution can solve.
    3. Create a community of practice (CoP) that supports growth and development by practitioners to leverage technological solutions rather than just a point solution for the product.
    4. Consider operations, maintenance and long-term integration as part of technological or research initiatives

    UK Technology and Innovation Against Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking project (#6) established a command, control and communication (C3) system including deployment of hardware and development of software. It deployed 47 smartphones, 5 tablets and training manuals servicing the rangers at Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park., The rhino population within Ngulia stabilized and even grew over the project period. This pilot project spurred interest from Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) leadership to expand the system to cover the entirety of Tsavo West National Park.

  • Recommendations:

    1. Invest in a more holistic and longer-term approach to combat IWT. A review of 20 donor case studies shows the positive impacts individual projects can have for a specific sector, region, country, and protected areas/local community. Still, these disparate efforts are often not linked to more comprehensive investment programs that are required to adequately address the root causes of this illicit environmental crime (i.e. weak legal systems, corruption along the IWT supply chain, demand for wildlife, etc.).
      1. Integrate upstream and downstream initiatives to enhance the capacity of key stakeholders
      2. Place national governments at the center of the IWT solutions. It is essential governments develop and implement an integrated (one-government) strategy that has buy-in from the top and ownership in relevant agencies. A resource mobilization plan can identify areas the Government will address with its own domestic resources, and those that donors and other partners can contribute.
    2. Scale up IWT funding to effectively combat IWT
      1. Scale up funding to sustain efforts to adequately combat IWT. As shown in 2016 WBG analysis, IWT donor funding increased in recent years, with Germany, EU, US, and the UK leading the way.
      2. Engage new donors from other sectors to invest in IWT as it can offer benefits beyond conservation, including governance, security, health, education, etc. New donors can help to mainstream IWT into core development and economic sectors (i.e. governance, security, tourism, finance, etc.).
    3. Increase coordination to better design and sequence initiatives across sectors and geographies.
      1. Global/national coordination: Coordinate across jurisdictions and all levels of government with support from the international community
        1. Obtain high-level head of state and ministerial commitments to promote the agenda and mobilize resources at the global and national levels.
        2. Identify, sequence, and design programs and projects effectively to combat the international criminal networks that exploit gaps in laws, enforcement, customs and trade processes.
        3. Partner with donors to prioritize joint investments that can combat IWT and deliver measurable results.
      2. Sub-national coordination: Align technical interventions and workplans across ministries and local governments; engage relevant IWT stakeholders to leverage their capabilities and resources.

    1. Average attendance for face-to-face events was 44; events were held at CITES SC 66 (Switzerland), CITES CoP 17 (South Africa), IWT Hanoi Conference (Vietnam), CBD CoP 13 (Mexico), Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (U.S.), CITES SC 69 (Switzerland).
    2. Average of 25 participants for donor virtual events; sessions featured presentations by donors, including USFWS, Germany, Oak Foundation, USAID, UK DEFRA, and Vulcan.
    3. Support for this project was generously provided by the German Government (EFO 1250 – Euro 217,391.30).
    4. IWT intervention types include: (i) policy and legislation (PL); (ii) law enforcement (LE); (iii) protected areas management (PA); (iv) communications and awareness/demand reduction (CA); (v) sustainable use and alternative livelihoods (SL); and (vi) research and assessment (RA). The case studies used for analysis included projects with greater focus on PA and LE; followed by SL, CA, RA, and PL.