interpol-cites-traffic-iucn2 December 2013: An operation coordinated under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project Wisdom and Project Leaf led to the seizure of more than 240 kilograms of elephant ivory, 856 timber logs, and 20 kg of rhino horns, in addition to firearms and drugs. In the process, 660 people were arrested. The seizure occurred just as delegates gathered to discuss the plight of the African Elephant at a summit convened by Botswana and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

According to a press release by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the operation led to the identification of key networks involved in the illegal trade of ivory across Southern and Eastern Africa, with INTERPOL highlighting the supportive role of information sharing and intelligence analysis for law enforcement involved in stopping trafficking. Meanwhile, in a press release on wildlife trafficking arrests in China, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) noted that the country is increasingly active in wildlife law enforcement, particularly in ivory-related law enforcement activities, and cited the apprehension of eight Chinese citizens for smuggling 3.2 tons of ivory between 2010 and 2012.

In addition, in coordination with the African Elephant Summit, the ‘Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants’ (MIKE), a program of CITES funded by the European Union, released an analysis on the status and impacts of elephant poaching across the 27 African countries participating in the program. The report indicates that in 2012, some 15,000 elephants were illegally killed at 42 sites across participating countries, and that with sustained, current poaching rates, Africa is likely to lose a fifth of its elephants over the next 10 years. [UNEP Press Release on INTERPOL operation] [IUCN Press Release] [CITES Joint Press Release on MIKE analysis] [CITES Press Release on China] [MIKE Analysis] [CITES Management Authority – China Press Release]