Illegal Wildlife Trade

Poaching and the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Tusk was launched in 1990 in response to a poaching crisis in Africa, which was pushing the black rhino towards extinction and seeing 100,000 elephant slaughtered each year. With Tusk’s help, rapid intervention and a trade ban turned the tide, and rhino and elephant populations began to recover. Tragically, poaching has returned throughout Africa, and Tusk is once again at the forefront of efforts to tackle it.

  • The illegal wildlife trade has become the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking.
  • Worth as much as $20billion per year, this trade threatens international security, national sovereignties, impoverished rural communities, and countless animals.
  • Up to 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks; that’s one every 15 minutes, a rate that populations cannot sustain.
  • Experts estimate that 70% of the African forest elephant population has been wiped out in the past 10 years.
  • In South Africa – home to 80% of the world’s population – rhino numbers went from 13 killed in 2007 to 1,215 in 2014; a rate of at least 3 rhino every day.  Rhino horn is now worth more than gold, yet is the same material as hair and fingernails.
  • Already threatened by habitat loss and conflict with people, African lions are now also being targeted by poachers for traditional Chinese medicine, with their bones serving as a substitute for tiger bones.
  • Pangolins have become the most illegally trafficked animal in the world for their meat and scales – which are used in traditional medicine – and all species are severely threatened as a result.

Intervention is required at every stage of the trade: anti-poaching patrols to stop the supply; international cooperation and tight border controls to stop the trafficking; and awareness campaigns to reduce demand in the destination countries.

Time For Change: On Thursday 22nd September 2016, Tusk held an historic global event to raise awareness of the scale and challenge of the illegal wildlife trade. The simultaneous event in London, Tokyo and Johannesburg delivered powerful conservation messages and calls to action ahead of the opening of the CITES conference, when representatives from all over the world gather in Johannesburg to debate the issues. Click here to find out more about the event.


Tusk supports rangers on the frontline of the war against poaching in ten different countries, helps empower local communities to protect their wildlife, and invests in the awareness programmes of WildAid, to reduce the demand in the Asian consumer countries.


Please help Tusk stop the killing.

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Read more here:

HRH The Duke of Cambridge, KG KT talks about the work of Tusk

Future generations must have the chance to wonder at The Continent’s spell-binding natural heritage for themselves.  We owe it to them.  This legacy is not ours to squander.  And in this cause, Tusk is a great Champion.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge, KG KT
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