Wildlife Crimes Unit

Wildlife trade is a vast, international, multi-million dollar commercial enterprise worth up to $10 billion a year, as much as 70% of which is illegal. Within Asia, much of this trade starts from Indonesia, one of the worlds 10 ‘megadiverse’ countries and the largest supplier of wildlife products in the region. Across the archipelago, key species including tiger, rhino, elephant, orangutan, birds, bears, orchids, fish, turtles, pangolins, coral, snakes, sharks and more are being hunted and traded in enormous volumes.

Of the 107 species of birds and mammals red-listed asendangered in Indonesia, overexploitation is identified as the principal threatin over one third. In the case of the 16 reptiles listed, overexploitation isidentified as the principal threat for all. While Indonesia has a legalenvironments that generally support the control of wildlife trade, itseffective implementation has many barriers. WCS aims to support the removal ofthese barriers, and to remove the threat to Indonesian biodiversity caused byboth the legal and illegal over-exploitation of wildlife



WCS operates an active Wildlife Crime Unit inIndonesia. This unit works alongside the Indonesian Forestry Department,Police, and other key stakeholders, focusing on:

  • Improved enforcement of wildlife trade: WCSworks closely with enforcement agencies in key trade locations to strengthenenforcement and reduce the supply of wildlife from illegal or unsustainablesources. We facilitate collaboration and information sharing and clarify roles,plus provide a comprehensive package of capacity building initiatives,targeting senior staff and judiciary, and focusing on developing an improvedtactical response. We also seek to improve the feedback systems by whichregional agencies report back to central government counterparts, thusproviding an factual basis for directing policy reform. We also activelyconduct overt and covert investigation of wildlife trade, providing allinformation to enforcement authorities.
  • Inter-agency collaboration & informationsharing: We seek to facilitate closer working relationships between nationaland international wildlife trade enforcement and regulating agencies, based onexisting or new institutions and forums, and focusing on free informationexchange, transparency, and cross-border enforcement issues.
  • Policy review and change: WCS seeks therevision and enactment of national policies and laws that support effective lawenforcement and that ensure wildlife is only legally traded from demonstrablysustainably exploited or captive-bred resources, with full identitypreservation.
WCS evaluates its impact against the rate ofloss of biodiversity within Indonesia, using key indicator species representativeof the main typologies of trade to monitor trade volume and economics, and wildpopulation status. Our activities currently focus on key trade ports inSumatra, Java and eastern Indonesia. Recent successes have included the largestseizure of pangolins ever in Indonesia

Important Next Steps

  • Expand our coverage: We are looking to expandour geographic coverage within Indonesia, particularly to the east in Malukuand Papua provinces, and to coordinate more multi-region enforcement action.
  • Economic assessment: We plan to undertake andetailed economic valuation of legal and illegal wildlife trade in Indonesia,including the externalities and opportunity costs and the economics ofenforcement. We intend this review to be used as a guide in resource allocationand as a basis for promoting fiscal reform.
  • Cost-recovery mechanisms: We are seeking topilot institutional cost-recovery mechanisms from illegal trade seizuresthrough money laundering legislation, and cost-recovery mechanisms from legaltrade through revised fiscal regulations


The problems that underlie the threat of illegal and unsustainable trade are complex. They include: exploitative national policy; weak information systems; isolated regional enforcement agencies, delivering ineffective law enforcement; low technical capacities and motivation; mal-governance and corruption.

Key Staff

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Contact Information
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