The Shuidong Connection: one town at the heart of the illegal ivory trade

Shuidong, a small town in China’s Guangdong Province, was relatively obscure until our recent investigation. It is now known, however, to be the global hub of ivory trafficking, with a key criminal syndicate alleging over 80% of poached ivory from Africa is being trafficked through the town.

£10 could help fight illegal ivory trade

Burning ivory

£10 could help uncover evidence on the ivory trade to share with international agencies like Interpol and the United Nations.

£25 could help expose the criminals at the heart of illegal logging

Filming

£25 could help pay for covert GPS systems that can track illegal timber movement in real time.

Following on from leads gathered in Tanzania in 2014, we began investigating neighbouring Mozambique, a country whose elephant population has been devastated by illegal poaching and ivory trafficking.

These investigations uncovered a powerful criminal syndicate operating out of Shuidong and using the town as a gateway to China and the rest of the world for poached ivory. It is now known that this Chinese-led syndicate is one of between 10 and 20 operating in the town, many of whom have been active for two decades or more.

Gifts to this appeal will be used wherever they are needed most to expose and stop wildlife and environmental crime around the world.

 Criminal gang showing collection of ivory

Our undercover investigations

Over the course of more than a year, our undercover investigators held discussions with ivory traffickers in and around Shuidong to uncover the ivory smuggling routes both in and out of the town.

These investigations gave us unprecedented insight into the methods used to source, ship and sell raw tusks. When combined with our findings from previous investigations in Tanzania and Mozambique, this operation painted a clear and detailed picture of Shuidong’s status as a key location in the global illegal ivory trade.

Members of a criminal gang

Disrupting the poaching networks

Methods used to launder the proceeds of illicit wildlife trade share similarities with other crimes, such as the use of underground money changers, or money laundering through apparently legitimate companies.

So to break supply routes to consumer markets and reduce the contracting of poachers in source countries, we want syndicates to be dismantled through effective anti-money laundering financial investigations and prosecution.

Without effective action to tackle the proceeds of illicit wildlife trade, criminal organisations will continue to have sufficient resources to target other regions and species where the biggest profits are to be made.

 
 Grieving elephant

What next for African elephants?

Over 20,000 elephants are still being poached each year – significantly more than are being born.

Ivory remains a highly sought after commodity with new smuggling routes and methods of supply changing constantly. We must continue to investigate, expose and stop the relentless criminal profiteering that drives elephant poaching.

In order to save African elephants from extinction, we must act now.

Young elephant

Make a difference for elephants today

We are committed to this fight but we rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our investigations and to enable us to present compelling evidence to international law enforcement.

Please help us put an end to elephant slaughter and other wildlife crime around the world by sending a gift today. Thank you.

 

£10 could help fight illegal ivory trade

Burning ivory

£10 could help uncover evidence on the ivory trade to share with international agencies like Interpol and the United Nations.

£25 could help expose the criminals at the heart of illegal logging

Filming

£25 could help pay for covert GPS systems that can track illegal timber movement in real time.

Help us improve!

Got a spare 5 minutes to help us improve our website?

(You can also win a canvas print of Elliott Neep or Mike Vickers amazing wildlife photography!
I'll do it
close-link
Click Me