A CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS OF ELEPHANT POACHING AND IVORY TRAFFICKING
IN EAST AFRICA
This case study takes data directly from the field collected by Elephant Action League and a partner in the field who infiltrated four elephant poaching and ivory trafficking networks in East Africa. What we found is in some respects at odds with the accepted law enforcement and conservation narratives assigned to ivory trafficking.
Washington DC, 20 July 2015 – In 2014-2015, the Elephant Action League (EAL), in collaboration with a partner, set out to identify and tackle the perceived shortcomings in how ivory trafficking is currently being addressed in East Africa. As we discuss in this case study, ivory trafficking is a complex problem, but we believe is a problem that can be significantly disrupted with the correct resources and a targeted application of effort.
Based on information collected during the course of this investigation, we argue that there are several components of elephant poaching and ivory trafficking not fully understood or encompassed by the existing approaches to stopping the problem, namely 1) that ivory is ‘pushed’ out of Africa as much as it is ‘pulled’ by overseas consumers and traffickers, 2) that networks operating in East Africa are not necessarily run by ‘kingpins’, and 3) that urban-based networks are unlikely to respond to existing programs designed for community-based natural resource management.
“Weak governance and widespread corruption continue to remain two huge obstacles to reigning in elephant poaching and ivory trafficking,” says Mr. Andrea Crosta, co-founder and Executive Director of the Elephant Action League. “These two obstacles often cancel out the substantial effort and millions of dollars spent in elephant protection by many governmental and non-governmental organizations.”
Download the Case Study here: Pushing Ivory Out of Africa – A Case Study
Two Confidential Intel Briefs (CIBs) have been shared with selected government organizations in Kenya and Tanzania.
FROM THE CASE STUDY:
Based on information collected and intelligence analysis throughout the course of this investigation, three stark components of elephant poaching and ivory trafficking were identified:
Ivory is PUSHED out of East Africa as much as it is PULLED out by foreign consumers. ‘Pushing’ ivory entails East African nationals exerting significant control over access to ivory and its subsequent movement along the supply chain to consumer nations.
Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking syndicates do not always use a hierarchical ‘kingpin’ chain-of-command model. These non-hierarchical networks can reorganize and remobilize quickly in the event of the removal of a single paymaster.
Poachers may be rural or urban-based. Conservation tools that focus on community-based natural resource management and alternative livelihoods will not have the intended effect on urban-based poaching cells.