Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Austin Jersild

Committee Member

Glen Sussman

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.I45 L66 2014


World biodiversity is faced with many different threats in today's globalized world. One such threat is the emergence of transnational organized crime in the illegal wildlife trade. But why would transnational organized crime which is traditionally associated with such crimes like illegal drugs, weapons, and human trafficking be interested in the illegal wildlife trade? This thesis seeks to explore why transnational organized crime as a rational business actor would it be interested in participating in the illegal wildlife trade. To explore this relationship, this thesis will look at several different variables. First the economic conditions oflocals living with wildlife and how globalization affects their economic choices. Second the rise of the East Asian middle class and how their integration into the world economy along with their own culturally influenced preferences in commodities affects the illegal wildlife trade. Third is the role of corruption and limited resources how these two variables affect Law Enforcement Organizations who have to fight the illegal wildlife trade and transnational organized crime. Fourth is the how transnational organized crime is changing the illegal wildlife trade in volume and methods. Finally how globalization is used by the transnational organized crime to facilitate their operations in the illegal wildlife trade. In doing so, this thesis seeks to show that from a rational business actor perspective there are sound economic reasons for transnational organized crime to operate in the illegal wildlife trade.


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