Sunday 29th July was Global Tiger Day and the wildlife crimes division of Interpol chose the day to announce the results of Operation Prey. The operation which aimed to tackle the trade in tigers and other big cats have so far bought in nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of pelts and other wild animal parts.
Operation Prey was carried out as part of the Project Predator which seeks to protect big cats across the 13 tiger nations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.[pullquote] The range of goods recovered during an operation primarily aimed at tiger protection again shows that criminals will target any animal and any plant to make a profit at the expense of our environment and in the case of endangered species, their future.[/pullquote]
Operation Prey was concentrated on dealers operating in 4 Asian countries; Bhutan, China, India and Nepal.
“The range of goods recovered during an operation primarily aimed at tiger protection again shows that criminals will target any animal and any plant to make a profit at the expense of our environment and in the case of endangered species, their future,” said David Higgins, manager of INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme which coordinated Operation Prey.
“INTERPOL is proud to contribute to the global effort to save the world’s wild tigers and we will continue to work with our partners to identify and dismantle the criminal networks behind the illicit trade in wildlife,” concluded Mr Higgins.
Among the artifacts seized by officers were;
- tiger skins,
- rhino horns,
- sea horses,
- protected orchid,
- and cactus plants.
The teams that took part in the investigations and raids covered the full range of regulatory authorities including police, customs, immigration, health and forestry departments.
Project Predator was established last year (2011) at the 80th INTERPOL General Assembly which was held over October and November. It brings together teams from the 13 tiger host nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution and INTERPOL.
Project Predator is tasked with accomplishing three main objectives:
- Encourage communication, cooperation and collaboration with respect to intelligence exchange, cross-border investigations and training;
- Contribute to the apprehension of criminals and organized groups;
- Develop a global picture of the criminal activity affecting the ongoing conservation of tigers and Asian big cats.
INTERPOL: Project Predator.