17. March 2021

New policy brief: Bringing intelligence and social network analysis together to fight illegal wildlife trade

Policy brief 6 mockup

A new policy brief published as part of our Institute-wide Green Corruption programme offers insights into synergies between law enforcement, intelligence and social network analysis (SNA) in the fight against illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

Drawing on a pilot project examining the network of an East Africa-based wildlife trafficker, the policy brief explains how intelligence practitioners within law enforcement authorities and researchers skilled in social network analysis (SNA) can and should cooperate better to combat IWT and other environmental crimes. 

Intelligence data are crucial for SNA researchers to conduct empirical analysis of illicit activities and dark networks. In turn, these research results can fruitfully feed back into investigations and further intelligence work. The combined effect of research and intelligence can have positive effects on the fight against IWT, and these effects are larger than the simple sum of their components. 

Policymakers and stakeholders who wish to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the fight against IWT and other environmental crimes are advised to promote the systematic cooperation between intelligence practitioners and researchers, in a way that both communities can maximise the benefits of this synergetic strategy. 

The research was conducted by Jacopo Costa, Senior Research Fellow within our Public Governance team under an ongoing project funded by PMI Impact and in close collaboration with our specialised financial investigators and local partners working to combat IWT.

View Policy Brief 6: Bringing intelligence and social network analysis together to fight illegal wildlife trade – lessons for policymakers and practitioners.