First-ever transnational collaboration between Africa and China helps combat wildlife crime
Through an operation dubbed Operation Cobra II, a mission to combat transnational wildlife crime has achieved excellent results.
Concluding on January 27th, a four week campaign led to over 400 arrests and more than 350 major wildlife seizures recovering 36 rhino horns, over three tonnes of elephant ivory, over 10,000 turtles, over 1,000 skins of protected species, over 10,000 European eels and more than 200 tonnes of rosewood logs!
The operation also saw the first-ever joint China-Africa undercover sting operation that led to the identity and arrest of members of a major ivory trafficking syndicate.
The operation was organized following a recommendation of the 16th Meeting of Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March 2013. The meeting urged source, transit and destination countries of wildlife trafficking to develop strategies and to collaborate to mitigate wildlife trafficking.
COBRA II was organized by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), China, USA, South Africa, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), CITES, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SA-WEN). Law enforcement officers from 28 participating countries shared intelligence; executed actions concurrently and; undertook follow-up investigations leading to the seizures. The operation also provided an opportunity for the range states to show political will and commitment to combat poaching and illegal trade in the most affected flagship species – Rhinoceros, Tibetan antelopes, Asian big cats, pangolins and elephants.
Without a doubt, COBRA II was a resounding success.
We at IFAW hold the view that no country or organization can single-handedly organize and facilitate an operation leading to such results. The recovery of these large amounts of specimens within a 30-day period is an indicator of the extent and international span of illegal wildlife crime hence the need to develop strong partnerships not only amongst countries but international agencies.
IFAW is happy to support such initiatives and strongly believes that a coordinated inter-country and inter-agency response is critical to effectively deal with wildlife crime. I trust that with the successful conclusion of COBRA II, collaborative and cooperative approaches towards fighting wildlife crime, which is itself transnational in nature, will become the norm rather than the exception.
For more information about IFAW efforts to combat wildlife crime, visit our campaign page.