2020 END Wildlife Trafficking Report

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Report to Congress on Major Wildlife Trafficking Countries
Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016
P.L. 114-231, Section 201

2020 Report

The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act (P.L. 114-231; 16 U.S.C. §§ 7601-7644) (the Act) directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, to submit to Congress a report that lists Focus Countries and Countries of Concern, as defined in the Act.

Wildlife trafficking remains a serious transnational crime that threatens security, economic prosperity, the rule of law, long-standing conservation efforts, and human health.  President Trump, in Executive Order 13773 (February 9, 2017), called for a comprehensive and decisive approach to dismantle organized crime syndicates and specifically recognized the connection between wildlife trafficking and transnational criminal organizations.

The Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking (Task Force), co-chaired by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General, brings together 17 federal departments and agencies to implement the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (the “National Strategy”).  The U.S. government’s three-pronged approach to combating wildlife trafficking – strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand, and building international cooperation – deprives criminals of a key source of financing, reducing the criminal threat posed to U.S. citizens.

The Task Force’s work to combat wildlife trafficking is making a difference on the ground at home and worldwide.  Task Force efforts and activities are better coordinated across the USG:  efficiencies are identified and exploited, redundancies eliminated, and resources used more strategically; international outreach continues to expand; and improved intelligence has identified new areas of work.  Working in partnership with the private sector, local communities, and NGOs, the United States has led the way globally, securing agreements and commitments from governments and stakeholders at all levels to take urgent action.  Highlights of Task Force efforts are included in the separate Strategic Review, as called for in Section 301(d) of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act.

To improve accountability and reporting on strategy implementation, the Task Force developed 14 indicators for monitoring U.S. government-supported actions to address wildlife trafficking in Focus Countries.  Ten indicators measure inputs, outputs, or outcomes of law enforcement capacity building and cooperation efforts, policy reform, and demand reduction actions tailored to each country.  Four indicators measure dimensions of how seriously wildlife crime is perceived or addressed in each country.  U.S. missions in all original 26 Focus Countries reported indicator data in 2019.  Almost every post reported that host countries conducted capacity building for law enforcement in 2019, and over half reported that there were seizures of wildlife or wildlife products attributable to USG engagement.  Nearly half of posts described demand-reduction efforts in 2019, representing an increasingly sophisticated and targeted response to the root causes of wildlife trafficking.

Focus Countries

Methodology for Determining Original 26 Focus Countries
The Department of State worked closely with the other agencies of the Task Force to employ both qualitative and quantitative information to identify Focus Countries and Countries of Concern, as defined in Section 2 of the Act, for the 2017 END Act Report.  Technical experts and scientists from Task Force agencies established a process to analyze wildlife trafficking information and gathered a set of relevant and available data.  This analysis included evaluation of data drawn from public reporting by USG agencies, international entities such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, as well as NGOs such as the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, TRAFFIC, the Environmental Investigation Agency, and Transparency International.  Information from the required national assessments reinforced and augmented our previous findings.

Task Force agencies, including those represented at U.S. missions overseas, reviewed the initial analysis and provided additional information that was often only available locally.  These country-specific analyses helped to round out the global data, including by providing information on additional species such as felines, primates, and marine species.  Agencies also considered the trajectory of wildlife populations and trafficking’s impact on that trajectory, government and private sector efforts to prevent illegal trade, and the presence of legal or poorly regulated domestic markets for species threatened by wildlife trafficking.

The Task Force further evaluated whether governments had recently taken steps to improve legislation, regulations, and/or enforcement and other trends such that the country is stepping up its efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife. Subsequent to the initial 26 Focus Countries identified in 2017, the 2019 report listed an additional two Focus Countries.

2020 Focus Countries
The Department of State, in consultation with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce, and with USAID, agreed that all 28 countries and jurisdictions listed as Focus Countries in the 2019 END Act Report should remain.  Each country previously listed continues to be a “major source of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, a major transit point of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, or a major consumer of wildlife trafficking products,” and designation that appears to have contributed to increased attention to combating wildlife trafficking in some Focus Countries.

Consistent with Section 301 of the END Act, U.S. missions in each Focus Country developed a strategic plan, based on the U.S. mission assessment of wildlife trafficking within that country.  U.S. agencies used the strategic plans to guide and coordinate U.S. government approaches and responses to the needs and gaps identified in the assessment.  The Task Force co-chairs, along with USAID, developed and distributed templates for both the assessments and Strategic Plans.  All Task Force agencies, both at post and in Washington, were invited to contribute to their development.  The Task Force reviewed for completeness and consistency, recognizing variability based on location in the supply chain, resources within the U.S. mission, and previous engagement in the issue.

U.S. missions in all Focus Countries have completed their assessments and only the U.S. Mission to Zimbabwe has yet to submit its Strategic Plan.  Together these documents provide an overview of the issues related to wildlife trafficking in that country, identify key areas for strategic intervention by the U.S. government, and either establish a new platform or support existing structures within the mission to guide a coordinated, “whole of government” approach to interventions.  In some cases, the development of the National Strategy brought together for the first time all U.S. government resources and agencies working in this arena, providing a clear view of the entire landscape of U.S. government support.  For some, the assessments and strategies offered the opportunity to elevate wildlife trafficking as an important security and economic issue, not only within the mission but also within the respective host government.

To assess new potential Focus Countries, the Task Force analyzed a compilation of seizure information derived from government data sets, popular media reports, and other sources that reflect reported illegal wildlife trade seizures around the world.  The analysis focused on data from 2013 to the present for CITES-listed species.  Countries were then ranked by total number of reported seizures, and nine new countries were identified for further review.  The Task Force then requested additional information from the U.S. missions in those countries and jurisdictions.  The additional information was reviewed to determine whether other countries should be added.  For the 2020 Report, no new Focus Countries have been added.

This determination is based on our analysis of the statutory criteria in the END Act and does not reflect a positive or negative judgment of the listed countries or indicate that these countries are not working diligently to combat wildlife trafficking.  Indeed, the United States has longstanding partnerships with many of these countries with respect to combating wildlife trafficking and recognizes the strong political will that already exists in many of these countries to tackle this problem.  The Department of State and other Task Force agencies look forward to continuing close and constructive relationships with these countries as we work collaboratively to combat wildlife trafficking.

2020 Focus Country List (in alphabetical order)
Bangladesh
Brazil
Burma
Cambodia
Cameroon
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gabon
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
India
Indonesia
Kenya
Laos
Madagascar
Malaysia
Mexico
Mozambique
Nigeria
People’s Republic of China
Philippines
Republic of the Congo
South Africa
Tanzania
Thailand
Togo
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Vietnam
Zimbabwe

Countries of Concern

2020 Countries of Concern
To identify Countries of Concern as directed by Section 201(b) of the Act, the Department of State, in consultation with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce and other agencies of the Task Force, reviewed publicly available information as well as classified material that indicated governments actively engaged in or knowingly profited from the trafficking of endangered or threatened species.  In 2020, no Countries of Concern were removed from the list, and Cambodia, Cameroon, and Nigeria were added.  This designation does not indicate that all parts of the government are or have been involved in wildlife trafficking, but there are serious concerns that either high-level or systemic government involvement has occurred.  The Task Force will, among other things, ensure that U.S. government agencies coordinate efforts among U.S. federal agencies ​and non-federal partners, to implement the U.S. mission strategic plans developed in accordance with section 301 of the Act, with a view to supporting these countries and their governments to reduce trade in and consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products.

2020 Countries of Concern List (in alphabetical order)
Cambodia
Cameroon
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Laos
Madagascar
Nigeria


Note:  This list includes both countries and jurisdictions.

 

For more information on U.S. Government efforts in combating wildlife trafficking, please see:

2020 END Wildlife Trafficking Strategic Review

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    Selected agencies—the Federal Aviation Administration, Indian Health Services, and Small Business Administration—had generally deployed tools intended to provide cybersecurity data to support the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program. As depicted in the figure, the program relies on automated tools to identify hardware and software residing on agency networks. This information is aggregated and compared to expected outcomes, such as whether actual device configuration settings meet federal benchmarks. The information is then displayed on an agency dashboard and federal dashboard. Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program Data Flow from Agencies to the Federal Dashboard However, while agencies reported that the program improved their network awareness, none of the three agencies had effectively implemented all key CDM program requirements. For example, the three agencies had not fully implemented requirements for managing their hardware. This was due in part to contractors, who install and troubleshoot the tools, not always providing unique identifying information. Accordingly, CDM tools did not provide an accurate count of the hardware on their networks. In addition, although most agencies implemented requirements for managing software, they were not consistently comparing configuration settings on their networks to federal core benchmarks intended to maintain a standard level of security. The agencies identified various challenges to implementing the program, including overcoming resource limitations and not being able to resolve problems directly with contractors. DHS had taken numerous steps to help manage these challenges, including tracking risks of insufficient resources, providing forums for agencies to raise concerns, and allowing agencies to provide feedback to DHS on contractor performance. In 2013, DHS established the CDM program to strengthen the cybersecurity of government networks and systems by providing tools to agencies to continuously monitor their networks. The program, with estimated costs of about $10.9 billion, intends to provide capabilities for agencies to identify, prioritize, and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities. GAO was asked to review agencies' continuous monitoring practices. This report (1) examines the extent to which selected agencies have effectively implemented key CDM program requirements and (2) describes challenges agencies identified in implementing the requirements and steps DHS has taken to address these challenges. GAO selected three agencies based on reported acquisition of CDM tools. GAO evaluated the agencies' implementation of CDM asset management capabilities, conducted semi-structured interviews with agency officials, and examined DHS actions. GAO is making six recommendations to DHS, including to ensure that contractors provide unique hardware identifiers; and nine recommendations to the three selected agencies, including to compare configurations to benchmarks. DHS and the selected agencies concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Vijay A. D'Souza at (202) 512-6240 or dsouzav@gao.gov.
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    In Travel
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Judiciary Steps Up Calls to Enact Security Measures
    In U.S Courts
    Citing the latest act of violence this year, in which a judge's family and officers at two federal courthouses have come under attack, the Judiciary has stepped up its call to congressional leaders for a series of safety measures “to protect the safety of the public at our nation’s courthouses.”
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  • Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Tampa, Florida, Towing Company for Unlawfully Selling Car Belonging to Deployed Servicemember
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida alleging that Target Recovery Towing Inc. and Target Recovery & Transport Inc. (together “Target”) violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), by failing to obtain a court order before auctioning off a car belonging to a U.s. Marine Corps Sergeant who was deployed overseas.  
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  • On the First Anniversary of the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Hospice Administrator Sentenced for Role in Hospice Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    The administrator of a Southern California hospice was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison for his role in a multimillion dollar hospice fraud scheme.
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  • Justice Department Files Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Pearl, Mississippi Property Owners and Rental Agent
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners, operators and rental agent of several apartment complexes in Pearl, Mississippi, violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against African Americans based on their race.
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  • Former DoD Employee Sentenced for Violently Assaulting Two Neighbors While Living Overseas
    In Crime News
    An Oklahoma City, Oklahoma man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Western District of Oklahoma for assaulting two neighbors inside their apartment in Okinawa, Japan, while working for the U.S. Armed Forces overseas as a civilian engineer.
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  • Colorado Man Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation of Children in Guatemala
    In Crime News
    A Colorado man was sentenced today to 60 years in prison for production, transportation, and possession of child pornography.
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    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Address Latin American Judges at Justice Department’s Judicial Studies Institute
    In Crime News
    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz today addressed over 157 judges from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru as part of a Department of Justice training program for the judiciaries of the Western Hemisphere. 
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  • High-Risk Series: Dedicated Leadership Needed to Address Limited Progress in Most High-Risk Areas
    In U.S GAO News
    Overall ratings in 2021 for 20 of GAO's 2019 high-risk areas remain unchanged, and five regressed. Seven areas improved, one to the point of removal from the High-Risk List. Two new areas are being added, bringing our 2021 High-Risk List to 36 areas. Where there has been improvement in high-risk areas, congressional actions, in addition to those by executive agencies, have been critical in spurring progress. GAO is removing Department of Defense (DOD) Support Infrastructure Management from the High-Risk List. Among other things, DOD has more efficiently utilized military installation space; reduced its infrastructure footprint and use of leases, reportedly saving millions of dollars; and improved its use of installation agreements, reducing base support costs GAO is narrowing the scope of three high-risk areas by removing segments of the areas due to progress that has been made. The affected areas are: (1) Federal Real Property (Costly Leasing) because the General Services Administration has reduced its reliance on costly leases and improved monitoring efforts; (2) DOD Contract Management (Acquisition Workforce) because DOD has significantly rebuilt its acquisition workforce; and (3) Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resources (Offshore Oil and Gas Oversight) because the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has implemented reforms improving offshore oil and gas oversight. National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse is being added to the High-Risk List. National rates of drug misuse have been increasing, and drug misuse has resulted in significant loss of life and harmful effects to society and the economy. GAO identified several challenges in the federal government's response, such as a need for greater leadership and coordination of the national effort, strategic guidance that fulfills all statutory requirements, and more effective implementation and monitoring. Emergency Loans for Small Businesses also is being added. The Small Business Administration has provided hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of loans and advances to help small businesses recover from adverse economic impacts created by COVID-19. While loans have greatly aided many small businesses, evidence of fraud and significant program integrity risks need much greater oversight and management attention. Nine existing high-risk areas also need more focused attention (see table). 2021 High-Risk List Areas Requiring Significant Attention High-risk areas that regressed since 2019 High-risk areas that need additional attention USPS Financial Viability IT Acquisitions and Operations Decennial Census Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nation U.S. Government's Environmental Liability Strategic Human Capital Management Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safety EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals   Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP   GAO's 2021 High-Risk List High-risk area Change since 2019 Strengthening the Foundation for Efficiency and Effectiveness Strategic Human Capital Management ↓ Managing Federal Real Propertya ↑ Funding the Nation's Surface Transportation Systemb c n/a Modernizing the U.S. Financial Regulatory Systemb ● Resolving the Federal Role in Housing Financeb ● USPS Financial Viabilityb ↓ Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resourcesa ● Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risksb ● Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations ● Improving Federal Management of Programs That Serve Tribes and Their Members ● Decennial Census ↓ U.S. Government's Environmental Liabilityb ● Emergency Loans for Small Businesses (new)c n/a Transforming DOD Program Management DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition ● DOD Financial Management ↑ DOD Business Systems Modernization ● DOD Approach to Business Transformation ● Ensuring Public Safety and Security Government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Processb ↑ Ensuring the Cybersecurity of the Nationb ↓ Strengthening Department of Homeland Security Management Functions ● Ensuring the Effective Protection of Technologies Critical to U.S. National Security Interests ● Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safetyb ● Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products ● Transforming EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals ↓ National Efforts to Prevent, Respond to, and Recover from Drug Misuse (new)c n/a Managing Federal Contracting More Effectively VA Acquisition Managementd n/a DOE's Contract and Project Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management ↑ NASA Acquisition Management ↑ DOD Contract Managementa ● Assessing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Tax Law Administration Enforcement of Tax Lawsb ● Modernizing and Safeguarding Insurance and Benefit Programs Medicare Program & Improper Paymentse ● Strengthening Medicaid Program Integrityb ● Improving and Modernizing Federal Disability Programs ● Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Insurance Programsb c n/a National Flood Insurance Programb ● Managing Risks and Improving VA Health Careb ↑ (↑ indicates area progressed on one or more criteria since 2019; ↓ indicates area declined on one or more criteria ; ● indicates no change; n/a = not applicable) Source: GAO. | GAO-21-119SP aRatings for a segment within this high-risk area improved sufficiently that the segment was removed. bLegislation is likely to be necessary in order to effectively address this high-risk area. cNot rated, because this high-risk area is newly added or primarily involves congressional action. dRated for the first time, because this high-risk area was newly added in 2019. eOnly rated on one segment; we did not rate other elements of the Medicare program. The federal government is one of the world's largest and most complex entities; about $6.6 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2020 funded a broad array of programs and operations. GAO's High-Risk Series identifies government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. This biennial update describes the status of high-risk areas, outlines actions that are still needed to assure further progress, and identifies any new high-risk areas needing attention by the executive branch and Congress. Solutions to high-risk problems save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen government performance and accountability. GAO uses five criteria to assess progress in addressing high-risk areas: (1) leadership commitment, (2) agency capacity, (3) an action plan, (4) monitoring efforts, and (5) demonstrated progress. This report describes GAO's views on progress made and what remains to be done to bring about lasting solutions for each high-risk area. Addressing GAO's hundreds of open recommendations across the high-risk areas and continued congressional oversight and action are essential to achieving greater progress. For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov.
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