Story Spotlight

A sniffer dog sniffs a suitcase with text: "Using Sniffer Dogs to Combat Wildlife Trafficking in Kazakhstan

An endangered Geoffrey's Spider Monkey with text: "Combating Timber and Wildlife Trafficking in Belize"

Combating Wildlife Trafficking Grant Program

Wildlife trafficking – the poaching or other taking of protected or managed species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their related parts and products – has escalated into an international crisis. Wildlife trafficking is both a critical conservation concern and a threat to global security with significant impacts on the national interests of the United States and the interests of our partners around the world.

In 2016, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) launched a new grant program that is funding innovative projects to halt wildlife trafficking. The funds are a lifeline to the many species threatened by the illegal trade worldwide that have not typically received international attention or significant resources.

A number of our other grant programs provide financial support for efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.. For the Combating Wildife Trafficking (CWT) grant program, priority is given to proposals that address wildlife trafficking issues and species not otherwise captured by the other programs.

For the purposes of this grant program, the term “wildlife” includes terrestrial and aquatic animal and plant species subject to illegal trade.


A Peruvian law enforcement official helps rescue several birds that were being illegal transported in a box. Credit: SERFOR

A Peruvian law enforcement official rescues several birds that were illegally transported for sale in a box. Credit: SERFOR

2018 Program Priorities

Combating Wildlife Trafficking Program Funding in 2016

Total Number of Grants Awarded 13
Total Funds Distributed Through Grants $1,162,775
Total Partner Contributions Leveraged by Grants $838,634


Conserving Priority Species Threatened by the Illegal Trade

We issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity to provide financial assistance to projects that address the illegal trade and trafficking of priority species.

Priority will be given to proposals focused on:

A pangolin. Credit: Tikki Hywood Trust• Species primarily threatened by the illegal trade and whose conservation status’ has been categorized as “Threatened” (including “Vulnerable,” “Endangered,” and “Critically Endangered”) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List; designated as “Threatened” or “Endangered” under The Endangered Species Act (ESA, 50CFR17); and/or listed in Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Proposals for species listed in Appendix II CITES and/or those that have yet to be listed but whose conservation statuses are greatly threatened by illegal trade will also be considered.

• Species of interest to the USFWS that are immediately threatened by the illegal trade including African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), pangolins (Manis spp. [Phataginus spp., and Smutsia spp.]), lions (Panthera leo), jaguars (Panthera onca), hippos (Hippopotamus amphibious), and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis).

Reducing Demand for Illegal Wildlife and Products in the United States

Sea turtle jewelry made from endangered hawksbill sea turtle shells. Credit: Sarah Metzer / USFWS

Sea turtle jewelry made from endangered hawksbill sea turtle shells. Credit: Sarah Metzer / USFWS

Based on data collected about illegal wildlife and wildlife products confiscated by U.S. officials at designated entry points to the U.S., there is evidence of a significant volume of wildlife trafficking into the United States for sale and personal possession. Seized products include wild-sourced meat, clothing, décor, medicinal items, souvenirs, pets, plants, and furniture. Anecdotal reports and investigations also indicate that wildlife products are sold online and within local stores throughout the country, but centralized and published data about these markets are not frequently available.

To complement and facilitate existing efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, we have issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity to provide financial assistance to data-driven, small-scale projects that seek to reduce demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products in the U.S.

Priority will be given to projects that address the following desired results:

• Improved understanding of the drivers of demand for illegal wildlife products in the U.S., with an emphasis on species that are sold illegally with some level of frequency in stores or online. Priority will be given to proposals with compelling and/or quantifiable evidence that trade and consumer demand in the U.S. is a significant conservation threat to the species.

• Promotion of data-driven, small-scale projects that seek to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products in the U.S. among a specific sub-group of consumers and/or sellers who are believed to be critical to make a positive conservation impact. Proposals will be strengthened by providing a well-developed results chain with appropriate testing and evaluation of messaging methods.