Wildlife Programme

Mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
© Martin Harvey / WWF
© David Lawson/WWF-UK
Okapi in Eastern DRC
© David Lawson/WWF-UK


Criminal exploitation of wildlife has reached unprecedented high levels and threatens the foundation of conservation efforts built over the past 50 years. The illegal wildlife trade, estimated at US$8-10 billion/year, is ranked among the top global illicit trades after narcotics, counterfeiting, human trafficking and illegal weapons.
© Brent Stirton / Reportage by Getty Images / WWF
A bull elephant bathing and drinking water in Ishango on the northern shores of Lake Edward in the "Block V" area of Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
© Brent Stirton / Reportage by Getty Images / WWF


With the assistance of WWF Netherlands, WWF-DRC is implementing a program aimed at addressing the issue of illegal wildlife trade. It focusses on combatting the illegal trafficking of ivory, great apes, bushmeat and live animals, primarily in Salonga and LacTumba landscapes.

Our main objectives by 2016 are as follows:

  • Increased support to law enforcement actions contributes to the reduction of illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade of flagship species (e.g. forest elephant, great apes) in major routes and cities of the priority landscapes.
  • Effective systems are in place leading to combatting the illegal wildlife trade Wildlife management at the landscape level is improved through capacity building, effective deterrents (operations, arrests, prosecutions) and monitoring measures.
  • The profile of wildlife crime as a serious crime, especially outside the environment sector, has been raised leading to more and more prosecutions and correct sentences.


  • Building effective intelligence networks
  • Breaking the illegal wildlife trade
  • Building capacity of law-enforecement agents



Poaching for ivory: The illegal ivory trade increases with international demand (especially from Asia), offers low risk and high profits. Inadequate and inefficient law enforcement compounds the problem. Over the last 10 years, the Congo Basin region lost 62% of its forest elephants. The disappearance of the elephants – a keystone species - is having much wider effects on the species composition and ecology of the Congo Basin Forest.

Poaching for bush meat – commercial hunting
Species losses due to wildlife trade (bushmeat, ivory) are considered to be significant and of utmost urgency. The bushmeat trade has taken on such dimensions that almost all species of large and medium-sized mammals and birds are threatened. This is because localized subsistence hunting has been overtaken by commercial hunting for urban centres. Demand for bushmeat from distant urban centres, coupled with a local economy characterized by limited income-generating opportunities, has resulted in an increasing reliance on wildlife exploitation.


- Corruption, weak enforcement and limited economic opportunities
- Absence of credible law enforcement, prosecution and penalties Insufficient training and equipping of law enforecement agents
- Rising global demand for illicit wildlife products