A multi-billion dollar criminal industry, illegal wildlife trade is one of the top threats to wildlife globally, from elephants to rhinos, tigers, turtles and more. The Zoo is working with and supporting more than a dozen partners around the world to intervene and disrupt the illegal wildlife trade chain.shutterstock316999553

The challenge

Illegal trade (wildlife trafficking) is a grave threat to the survival of many of the earths’ species. This black market turned “big business” is worth an estimated $20 billion a year and is controlled by dangerous international criminal networks linked to terrorism and the trafficking of drugs, arms and people.

Illegal wildlife trade is an extremely complex political, social, economic and environmental issue with global implications and significant human and wildlife impacts.

What we're doing

Addressing illegal wildlife trade requires strategic efforts at all points in the illegal wildlife trade chain, from collector to consumer. This involves anti-poaching efforts, law enforcement and regulatory agency support, legislation and political action, large-scale awareness building and education, and public advocacy and behavior change.

The Zoo's Future for Wildlife program works with multiple conservation partners to address illegal wildlife trade by:

  • Engaging and empowering local communities and educating the public and consumers
  • Working to stop the illegal wildlife trade globally
  • Monitoring, studying and publishing information on wildlife trade at a global level

How you can help

Join our efforts to secure a future for wildlife and to combat illegal wildlife trade.

  • Make a donation to combat illegal wildlife trade at the top of this page.
  • Don’t view, like or share online content that could contribute to the abuse and/or illegal trade of wildlife. Encourage others to do the same. By demonstrating that there is no consumer demand for this type of unethical content, we can discourage it from being produced.
  • Actively monitor and report any illegal or suspicious activity related to protected wildlife being offered for sale/trade or being kept as a pet (especially online).
  • Let public officials, corporations and other decision and policy makers know that you care, and that you expect them to help us protect wildlife. Encourage others to do the same.


Sniffer dogs are trained to detect illegal animal products such as elephant ivory

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