Wildlife Trafficking: Stopping the Scourge


This policy lab seminar addressed the international wildlife trafficking crisis, with a focus on legal and policy tools that can help combat the scourge. The price of ivory on black markets has skyrocketed and elephant and rhino populations in Africa are being decimated. At current poaching rates, African elephants could be wiped out within 8 to 10 years. Trafficking also is hitting tigers, great apes, sharks and other important species. The seminar will key into the President’s recent Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking (E.O. 13658 issued on July 1, 2013), the National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking and other related international efforts to reduce the killing in host countries, the transshipment of poached materials, and consumer demand for ivory and other wildlife parts. The seminar addressed US laws and their role in addressing trade in wildlife parts. It also gave a comparative review of the legal structures in relevant African and Asian nations, and the potential role of the international endangered species treaty (CITES) and transnational enforcement efforts in cracking down on ivory and other wildlife-related trafficking. The seminar reviewed prior poaching crises, including the elephant/ivory crisis in the late 1980s, and evaluated why the strategies that reduced killings in the 1990s are no longer successful. Based on these analyses, the class developed and submitted recommendations for reforms to US, African, and international laws and practices to two groups established under the Executive Order:

  1.  The President’s Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, which is chaired by the Secretaries of State and Interior and the Attorney General;
  2. The Wildlife Trafficking Advisory Council, which is composed of outside experts who are advising the Task Force. (Professor Hayes is an appointed member of the Advisory Council)

Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking Public Meeting Materials

On March 20, 2014, Advisory Council members met to present recommendations on the implementation of the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking and to receive public comment regarding the National Strategy. Following discussion among Advisory Council members on the four major subcommittee areas, legal frameworks/reform, enforcement, communication/advocacy, and public/private partnerships, the Council listened to comments from the public. These included members of the antique and auction communities, museum curators, artists and musicians, representatives from non-government organizations, university students and other concerned members of the public. The next public meeting is scheduled for June, 2014.

Meeting Materials:

March 20, 2014 Public Meeting Materials

Comments and Recommendations for the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking

David Hayes on the President’s Wildlife Trafficking Advisory Council

Clients & Deliverables



This policy lab seminar addressed the legal and policy tools to combat the international wildlife trafficking crisis. Students worked hand-in-hand with the Federal Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking to recommend possible reforms to U.S. and international laws, and transnational enforcement efforts in cracking down on ivory and other wildlife-related trafficking.