Background/Question/Methods The interconnectedness of environmental crimes and other types of serious and organised crime has received increasing attention in recent years. It is suspected that crime convergence is occurring more frequently due to the changes that globalization has made to crime, such as more horizontally integrated crime networks, and easier access to communications and logistics technology. Scholars have suggested that the high profitability and low risk of detection for participating in illegal wildlife extraction and trade is increasingly attracting the involvement of transnational organised crime groups that previously specialised in other crime types, such as human trafficking. As a result, human and wildlife exploitation are thought to be closely linked. We conducted a global literature review and document analysis (n=59) to understand the various convergences that link the global illegal wildlife trade to multiple forms of human exploitation according to academic and grey literature publications over the past two decades.
Results/Conclusions We found that illegal wildlife trade relates to human exploitation in a number of ways, and that convergences between the two crime types have occurred at multiple stages of the human trafficking process. We outline human trafficking convergences that occur with the illegal trade in a variety of taxa and wildlife products, including abalone, elephant ivory, rhino horn, tigers, birds, gorillas, and fish, including shark fins, totoaba, and caviar. The types of convergences that link human exploitation and wildlife trafficking include shared smuggling routes, parallel trafficking, geographic convergences, diversification of organised crime groups, forced and bonded labour, common fixers, and shared enabling crimes. We also note that both human and wildlife exploitation can also have disproportionate effects on people at the intersections of racialized and gendered oppression. Lastly, we identified a number of general similarities between the two types of illegal activities, such as the structures of the organised crime groups involved. We conclude by outlining the implications of the possible growing convergence of human and environmental exploitation, and offer suggestions for future research directions.