Against Wildlife Trafficking: Working Together to End the Illegal Trade in Wildlife

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
January 30, 2009

Wildlife trafficking – the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products – is a soaring black market worth an estimated $10 billion a year.

The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) aims to focus public and political attention and resources on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. CAWT is leveraging the combined strengths of government and nongovernmental partners to:

  • Improve Wildlife Law Enforcement by expanding enforcement training and information sharing and strengthening regional cooperative networks.
  • Reduce consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife by raising awareness of the impacts of illegal wildlife trade on biodiversity and the environment, livelihoods and human health; its links to organized crime; and the availability of sustainable alternatives.
  • Catalyze high-level political will to fight wildlife trafficking by broadening support at the highest political levels for actions to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.


Initiated in 2005, CAWT is a unique voluntary publicprivate coalition of likeminded governments and organizations that share a common purpose. By joining the Coalition, a partner commits to address the growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade. CAWT partners work individually and jointly toward achieving the Coalition’s goals, with each partner acting where it can contribute most effectively.


Unchecked demand for exotic pets, rare foods, trophies and traditional medicines is driving many species to the brink of extinction, threatening efforts to meet the 2010 target to reduce global biodiversity loss, and contributing to the spread to humans of virulent wildlife diseases, such as SARS, avian influenza and the Ebola virus. The illegal wildlife trade is often linked to organized crime and involves many of the same culprits and smuggling routes as trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons.


The Coalition complements and reinforces existing national, regional and international efforts. These include:
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which monitors and regulates international trade in endangered and threatened species and their derivatives
  • ASEAN-WEN, a Southeast Asian regional network to coordinate and share information among law enforcement agencies to combat the illicit harvesting of and transnational trade in wildlife. Coalition partners hope to replicate the ASEAN-WEN success is South Asia.