Insights From The Incarcerated

The illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products globally is estimated to be worth more than USD72 billion annually, ranking alongside the illegal trafficking of narcotics, arms, and humans. This illegal trade, like other transnational crimes, involves a complex network of various individuals with the ultimate goal of moving the commodities from source to consumer. Based on the need to understand better the modus operandi of these criminal networks, this study interviewed 73 offenders incarcerated in 25 of South Africa’s correctional centres for offences related to the illegal trade in wildlife. The focus of the study was to uncover how offenders were recruited, the structure and modus operandi of these criminal networks, to gain insight into facilitators of these crimes on the economic value of the commodities at different stages in the supply chain and associated benefits for offenders. It was hoped that this research would also form the basis with which to engage with law enforcement to gain a better understanding of the current constraints and challenges faced by these agencies to perform their duties. Understanding the constraints and challenges of these agencies will enable interested stakeholders to identify solutions that may mitigate these constraints.