U.S. and South Africa to fight wildlife trafficking

American and South African authorities are creating a task force to combat SA’s criminal activity and avoid the country being “grey listed”. Read on to learn what this means and the financial ramifications of it.


by Aline Barbosa

Published on 01/31/2023

Both nations are coming together to put an end to illegal trade.

wildlife trafficking
U.S. and SA’s government are joining forces to fight wildlife trafficking. Source: Unsplash.

American and South African authorities will begin working together in an effort to combat wildlife trafficking. The idea is to share financial intelligence to assist South Africa with their efforts in dealing with illegal activities identified by a global financial overseer.

Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that both countries are working on a soon-to-be-formed task force. They will share the financial indicators and red flags related to wildlife trafficking.

They’ll also prioritise investigations into corruption, transnational criminal organisations and drug trafficking. 

In a speech at a game reserve in Pretoria, Yellen said that generally, wildlife traffickers, corrupt forces and all sorts of criminals rely on the same vulnerabilities in regulatory regimes regarding anti-money laundering. 

So their combined efforts to fight wildlife trafficking will surely reinforce their agenda to fight corruption and vice versa. 

Another point to creating a task force is to increase the efforts of law enforcement patrols and help them recover the proceeds of wildlife trafficking. That way they can track rhino horns, elephant ivory and much more. 

This agreement between both nations comes as South Africa aims to avoid being placed on the so-called “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force. The list identifies countries that have trouble in dealing with illicit financial affairs. 

South Africa will make its last case against being put in the grey list at the end of February, in a scheduled meeting with the responsible party. Being classified as such could mean a lot of financial trouble for SA in the future. 

The consequences of wildlife trafficking and the grey list

wildlife trafficking
The grey list could mean financial trouble for South Africa. Source: Unsplash.

In an evaluation carried out in 2019 under former President Jacob Zuma’s nine-year rule, the FATF’s effectiveness measures to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism found that South Africa was lacking in all of their 11 topics.

Grey listing could cause serious reputational damage for SA, not to mention capital and currency outflows. It could also enhance transactional and funding costs for financial institutions, according to South Africa’s central bank. 

Last month, President Ramaphosa signed two important pieces of legislation that address the troubles pointed out by the overseer into law. Especially when it comes to wildlife trafficking. 

Yellen said that the U.S. Treasury and South Africa’s Treasury will work closely with law enforcement and private sector agencies to increase controls in order to fight terrorist financing and money laundering.

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About the author

Aline Barbosa

Aline Barbosa is an editor, writer and learning-enthusiast. Passionate about music, books and human behavior. Curious about the unknown. Believer that learning is a life-long process.

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