In order to conserve species exploited by trafficking, governmental actions should be directed to source areas, aiming to reduce or eliminate illegal and indiscriminate trapping. However, few studies have diagnosed and prioritized the most relevant drivers of the illegal capture of wild animals. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the main drivers of the illegal capture of wild birds in Brazil. A literature review and a multivariate modelling approach indicated the economic, social and environmental factors that display the greatest influence in boosting this illicit activity worldwide. Our search revealed seven drivers of illegal wildlife capture addressed by researchers in studies carried out in source countries. This is the first broad-scale study in Brazil showing that higher native vegetation coverage and greater proximity to protected areas were the main drivers of illegal wild bird capture for trafficking. Thus, actions that aim to protect species threatened by trafficking require a multidisciplinary approach encompassing social, economic and environmental factors.