Working together with INTERPOL to ensure fewer wild animals are killed needlessly
On March 7, at the 16th meeting of the Parties of CITES in Bangkok, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and INTERPOL released a report on the results of our Project Web investigation into the illegal ivory trade across the Internet in the EU. I think you’ll find the results of this investigation shocking, but the report makes several recommendations on how we can contribute to making the online world safer for elephants.
INTERPOL, backed by IFAW’s expertise and support, conducted surveillance of Internet auction sites in 9 European Union countries over a 2-week period to get a look into the scale and nature of the illegal ivory trade on the Internet.
Based on a survey of 660 advertisements on 61 auction sites, the Project WEB investigation found the practice of selling ivory is pervasive across the EU. The total value of the ivory up for bids was about 1.5 million euros.
Project Web was launched following prior investigations by IFAW that found ivory is the most widely traded wildlife product on the Internet.
Project Web’s investigators came from environmental, high-tech crime and criminal assets departments, INTERPOL and CITES. I point this out because it underscores the main point that I want to make.
The type of cooperation shown by a range of enforcement officials on INTERPOL Project Web is an important step toward the type of coordinated effort needed to combat wildlife crime and thereby contribute to providing security for wildlife.
More coordination is needed.
If we pause for a moment to think about all that our various organizations are doing, and in some cases, the lack of serious coordination and cooperation on the ground, it is hard for me not to come to the conclusion that we are not doing all we need to do as a movement.
INTERPOL has provided leadership and results in combating wildlife crime and I urge every member of CITES to further explore how they might join forces to combine our expertise and your resources to this fight.
I am not a cop, so my colleague David Higgins, who manages INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, might say his mission is to interdict and suppress wildlife crime, but our mission is to ensure that fewer wild animals are killed needlessly.
We treasure our partnership with INTERPOL because it helps us meet that goal.