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 alongside WWF like any normal pressure group: 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, Traffic’s document 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 IUCN’s work, TRAFFIC developed 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.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.