IWT and its relation to criminal organizations : an African case study with global implications

Illicit Wildlife Trafficking (IWT) has been viewed through an environmental lens rather than a security lens for many years. This has allowed for increased rates of poaching and an unprecedented growth of IWT. This thesis asserts that IWT must be viewed through a security lens to improve global security. By showing a clear link between IWT and criminal organizations this thesis will shine a new light on illicit trafficking of wildlife. An analysis of elephant and rhino populations throughout several regions in Africa will give a general idea of the scope of the problem in Africa. This thesis acknowledges that Africa is not the only continent afflicted with IWT but points to Africa as a major case study in a very broad topic that could not be avoided. An often-overlooked aspect of illicit wildlife trafficking is its connection to the sea. There are many ways in which illicit goods can be transported but the maritime domain is the most popular mode of transportation. The maritime domain has arguably been the greatest facilitator of IWT. Attacking the supply chains, most notably ports in source countries, has potential to be an extremely effective way to combat IWT. The goal of this thesis is to shift the thinking of policy makers from an environmental stance to a security stance; it is also imperative that policy makers approach the war on IWT by improving socioeconomic issues in source countries that could increase IWT.

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.