Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 215–234 | Cite as

Merely a transit country? Examining the role of Uganda in the transnational illegal ivory trade

  • Siv Rebekka Runhovde


Uganda is repeatedly implicated in the illegal ivory trade as a transit territory for ivory destined for Asia. Interviews with law enforcement officers reveal that the size of seizures and means of concealment and transportation are varied, showing diversity in the trade’s level of organization and sophistication. Arguably, considerable processing takes place within Uganda in terms of stockpiling, repacking and organization of exports but investigations rarely lead to prosecution and conviction of those responsible. Findings demonstrate the intricate role and responsibility of transit countries and illustrate how the transnational ivory trade operates locally.


Transnational organized crime Illegal ivory trade Border control Transit Uganda Wildlife trafficking 



This paper has benefited greatly from discussions with and feedback from H. I. Gundhus, R. Sollund, J. Gosling and P. Larsson. I am grateful to G. Muwulya for assistance during the data collection and to the Norwegian Embassy in Kampala for writing introduction letters to the relevant organizations. I also thank the respondents for sharing their knowledge, without which the present study could not have been completed.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Human and animal studies

The study does not contain any studies with animals performed by the author.


This work was partly financed through a scholarship awarded by the Nordic Africa Institute in 2013.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflicts of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Police University CollegeOsloNorway

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