Conservation Influencers

Traffic international – the wildlife monitoring network

Cambridge, UK

TRAFFIC International (TRAFFIC) was established in 1976 by WWF and IUCN. Its mission is to ‘ensure that the trade in wild plants and animals does not pose a threat to the conservation of nature’. TRAFFIC was designed to support CITES’ regulations by providing, in James Compton’s words, ‘impartial analysis of wildlife trade issues’, based on research and investigations, which sometimes accept sustainable use trade as being legitimate.

But TRAFFIC is also a lobbyist. And on these matters, its views are almost always aligned with IUCN’s and WWF’s. In 2018, TRAFFIC, IUCN and WWF signed a new partnership agreement for work in strategic alliance on wildlife trade issues. Hence, TRAFFIC often campaigns like any normal pressure group alongside WWF: see WWF/TRAFFIC Wildlife Trade Campaign Report Summary 2012-2013.

Ahead of CITES CoP-18, IUCN/TRAFFIC submitted what it called ‘an objective source of information’ on all 57 Proposals that were made to amend CITES’ Appendices. Co-founded and -badged by WWF, and in line with WWF’s own positions, it also volunteered recommendations on all the proposals.

When South Africa’s Department for Environmental Affairs (DEA) lifted the moratorium banning its domestic rhino horn market in 2017, TRAFFIC lobbied against the move. That same year it published Pendants, Powder and Pathways, which examined the dynamics of the illegal rhino horn trade. This self-claimed ‘impartial’ document presupposes that sustainable use solutions and the rhino horn trade are incompatible, maintaining that prohibition is the only option. TRAFFIC takes the same militant stance with regards to all ivory trade and all whales. 

Since 1997, CITES has used its Trust Fund to finance its Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, which is led by IUCN. Complementing this work, TRAFFIC developed and and now operates CITES’ Elephant Trade Information System. This system, which is integrated with MIKE, tracks illegal trade in elephant ivory and other elephant products on a centralised database. This database records law enforcement actions in more than 100 countries. CITES estimated the annual recurrent costs of these two programmes at USD 9,930,753. 


Steven Broad, Executive Director, Fellow of WWF UK.


The Board of Trustees is chaired Mark Halle, who first worked for WWF-International’s Conservation Division, with responsibility for building its programmes in China, before spending fourteen years at IUCN.


According to its website, year ended 30th June 2019, TRAFFIC International received income totaling £13.5 million, and its expenditure amounted to £10.5 million.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.