BIOSEC bitesize: laws and loopholes

15 September 2020

Through our ‘BIOSEC Bitesize’ series, we are looking back on the key publications, blogs and podcasts that define our research, offering you a curated reading, watching and listening list for each topic.

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Laws and loopholes

Despite the fact that most countries have joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), laws governing the trade in wildlife and wildlife products are often complex, varying between countries and regions, and are not always fit for purpose. This create loopholes and grey areas that generate opportunities for the illegal wildlife trade.

Our research explores the interaction of the legal and illegal. Through the use of in-depth case studies, we examine the legal loopholes and grey markets of the illegal wildlife trade and illustrate that the legal and the illegal spheres are often closely intertwined. We show how the tightening of regulations in one country or policy area can shift criminality to other regions or policy fields. Placing these insights in wider structural contexts, we question the notion of poverty as a driver of IWT.

Instead, our research critically interrogates how wealth and notions of luxury influence consumer behaviour, and how and under what circumstances they function as key motivating factors in the exploitation of legal loopholes.

Our areas of expertise are the timber trade in Romania, the songbird trade in the Western Balkans and the global cacti and succulent trade.

Team members

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Policy briefs

Policy response


Short film

  • Laws and loopholes