Welcome to the website of the ICOM NATHIST Wildlife Trafficking Working Group. The Working Group is an arm of the International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History. See our About page for more details about who we are.

Illicit trafficking of wildlife is one of the most serious problems facing the natural history museum sector. Aside from the ethical mandate to protect populations from which their specimens come, theft of increasingly valuable specimens responding to a burgeoning black market makes it imperative to make a contribution to this issue.

Zagreb Zoo, a serene place to think about this difficult problem.
Zagreb Zoo, a serene place to think about this difficult problem.

The Working Group was initiated at an international workshop at Zagreb Zoo in October 2014, attended by professionals representing museums, NGOs, IGOs and government agencies and covering expertise including wildlife genetics, international security, ecology, museology and public engagement in both source and recipient regions. This think-tank established a suite of tangible activities and/or to museums’ capacity worldwide with methods of combating illicit trafficking of wildlife, of which this website is the first initiative.

Zagreb Zoo was the ideal location for a conference of this nature. As well as providing a beautiful setting, it gave participants the chance to see up close some of the species that are of greatest concern to conservation. The fundamental question put to participants was “how can collecting institutions help to stem the tide of illicit trafficking of wildlife and how can they best protect themselves from its effects?” It was conducted as a two-part process, first to define the problem, as it relates to museums, and then to identify possible initiatives that would begin to support global action.

Workshop participants enjoy a well-deserved break at the Zoo café.
Workshop participants enjoy a well-deserved break at the Zoo café.

Considering the extent of the work that would need to be done to address this issue appropriately, coupled with the diversity of skill and knowledge available within other groups working on this problem, the Workshop agreed that forming partnerships was the first priority. The next steps going forward are to create tools to inform and connect to potential partners and provide a forum for wider participation for those interested in the topic. This website is the first of those tools and its aim is to bring together workers and information, and keep stakeholders informed of our activities. It will be maintained by the Board of ICOM NATHIST and can be contributed to by any thinkers on the topic.

We encourage you to get involved and to tell your colleagues who you think might be interested in this topic.

Smit_Faces_of_LorisesThe imagery used for the website is of a slow loris, a detail of Joseph Smit’s 1904 illustration of loris face types. Lorises are increasingly threatened in part because after as pets (despite being nocturnal and having a toxic bite), which compounds severe habitat loss due to slash and burn clearing of rainforest in their native Southeast Asia.

1. Nycticebus tardigradus malayanus (Sunda slow loris)2. Nycticebus tardigradus hilleri (Sunda slow loris, type species) 3. Loris gracilis typicus (Loris lydekkerianus lydekkerianus – Grey slender loris) 4. Loris gracilis zeylanicus (Red slender loris).



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