Each story in this edition of the Risk Bulletin of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africa looks at a different illegal market: from trade in stolen agricultural produce to illegal fishing and ivory poaching. What unites several of the stories, however, is how organized crime can have development impacts and undermine the management of natural resources, whether these are wild flora and fauna, such as elephant populations and fish stocks, or agricultural crops.

The surprising emergence of black markets for avocados and macadamias in Southern Africa is the focus of our lead story this month. Rising avocado theft echoes criminal trends seen globally in avocado-producing countries, as worldwide demand has caused prices to skyrocket. Macadamia theft is a phenomenon seen across Southern Africa to differing degrees of severity in Zimbabwe (where clashes between growers and thieves have turned to violence), South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a complex issue, for which reliable data has long been largely unavailable. This month, we draw on data from the Global Initiative’s IUU Fishing Index to show the dynamics of government responses to IUU fishing across Eastern and Southern Africa.

We also report on a success story in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Elephant poaching in the Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique, has dwindled to nothing just a few years after the reserve became a regional epicentre of ivory trafficking. We investigate how this was brought about and what lessons this success story may hold for conservation elsewhere.

Finally, four years ago, Uganda introduced new narcotics legislation. Its impacts are now being widely felt: our reporting shows that the new legislation has worsened conditions for people who use drugs in Uganda, who are targeted by the harsh penalties set out in the legislation.

At the same time, the way the penalties are structured creates a more permissible environment for drug trafficking organizations.

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