Illegal ivory trade as organized crime? Insights from a DRC-Uganda trade route

Authors: Kristof Titeca*, University of Antwerp
Topics: Africa, Environment
Keywords: wildlife, Africa, Uganda, DR Congo
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The last decade has seen a rapid escalation of the illegal ivory trade, particularly out of Africa. Based on analyses of confiscated ivory – which is traded in increasingly large consignments – the dominant claim is that transnational organized crime has come to dominate this trade. Yet, this paper argues how existing research with law-enforcement officials and confiscation data allows for little understanding of the structures and actors active in this trade, necessary to back up and deepen this claim. This presentation relies on a methodologically innovative perspective to further unpack this claim, and deepen the understanding of this trade: it is based on research along an ivory value chain between north-eastern DR Congo and Uganda, from the poaching site (Garamba national park, DRC) until the exit point, out of Africa (Entebbe Airport, Uganda). Crucially, it is based on ethnographic research of the last 5 years among a number of illegal ivory traders in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through this multi-sited research on central points of the ivory value chain, and by following traders throughout time on the (historical) peak of the illegal ivory trade, it questions the homogenous characterisation of transnational organised crime, but highlights the increasing domination of this trade by a particular set of actors.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login