By Kevin Heath
Interpol has just released details of Project Wendi – a four moth operation between Jan and May – which led to the arrests of 66 ivory smugglers. The operation was targeted at the increasing poaching of elephants in West and Central Africa.
The operation also saw the seizure of almost 4,000 ivory products including 50 full tusks. But it was not just elephant tusks and ivory that were discovered in the series of raids against international wildlife traffickers. 222 live animals including parrots and crocodiles were discovered together with 148 animal parts. Many of the live animals seized were able to be returned back into the wild.
Interpol with help from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) worked with local law enforcement agencies and police across 5 countries in Central and West Africa to target the criminals.
Shops and wholesalers together with targeted individuals in Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Guinea and Liberia were inspected by both police and customs officials following intelligence and investigations.
“Wendi is one of a series of operations planned to tackle this crime which threatens both biodiversity and civil society, and its success is due to the hard work of the officers on the ground and the strong cooperation between the involved agencies and organizations,” said David Higgins, Manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme. More....