Illegal wildlife trade is an issue of global concern. Worth up to 20 billion U.S. dollars a year,  it is one of the most lucrative types of transnational crime after drugs, human trafficking and weapons. Poaching of iconic wildlife species including elephants, rhinos and pangolins is at a record high. However, these and other animals, including birds and reptiles are killed or transported live to meet the demand from markets for sale as high-value luxury products, medicine and pets. The scale of this illicit global trade has grown exponentially in recent years, largely driven by rising demand and opportunity through expanding trade routes (in both scope and volume, and including new ports and hubs).

Illegal wildlife and wildlife products typically travel great distances from source to market, making it a logistics and transport-intensive activity involving air, land and sea ports, passenger and cargo airlines, shipping companies, express couriers, freight forwarders and customs brokers. Wildlife traffickers exploit the increasing connectivity of global transportation, online markets, and gaps in law enforcement to minimize the risk of detection.

With increased awareness of the global impact of illegal wildlife trafficking, and the exploitation of the transport sector. Industry leaders are making commitments and taking action to build awareness, capacity and strategic and cohesive responses to tackle wildlife trafficking as a corporate priority.

The ROUTES Partnership is an innovative and transformational partnership that brings together international conservation organizations, donors, government, and the transportation and logistics industry for a multi-year collaborative program to disrupt wildlife trafficking by reducing the use of legal transportation supply chains and to take advantage of the current high level of corporate interest to become champions in the industry.