Cobra 2 leads to big wildlife trade busts

Chinese led wildlife trafficking operation Cobra 2 has led to over 400 arrests, recovery of 3 tonnes of ivory and 36 rhino horns and other wildlife products. Details of the success of Cobra 2 were released today by authorities in Beijing.

Cobra is the name of a series of operations led by China and involving  the United States, South Africa, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network, and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network.

The investigations cover multiple countries and in today’s media release, from the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office, the full details of the second operation were made known. Law enforcement operators in a number of countries:

  • made over 400 arrests involving 350 different investigations,
  • recovered over 3 tonnes of ivory,
  • recovered 36 rhino horns,
  • seized over 1,000 animal skins

Wildlife products from a number of species were seized including body parts from: cheetah, elephant, rhinoceros, pangolin, leopard, rosewood, snake, tiger and turtle,

The operation covered 28 countries and was undertaken over December 30th  2013 and January 26th 2014.

The operation involved over 100,000 officials in China alone and saw the first time that Chinese wildlife officials being sent to Kenya to help local official in investigating wildlife crime cases.

China played a leading role in operation Cobra II,” said Wan Ziming, director of the Law Enforcement Department with the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office.

The latest operation follows on from the first Cobra operation that took place in early 2013 and involved 22 countries. The global crackdown was supported by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the World Customs Organization, and Interpol.

 Zhang Jianlong, director of the collaborative group and deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said China will continue to cooperate with other countries to strengthen wildlife protection and fully fulfil its international obligations.

The operation continues the hard-line approach to wildlife trading that appears to be taking priority under the new Chinese leadership with the operation taking place as the Chinese authorities prepared the way for the ground-breaking ivory crush of 6 tonnes of confiscated ivory early in January.

The CITES Secretariat has welcomed the success of the multi-national operation.  The CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon said, “This second Operation COBRA initiative shows what can be achieved when law enforcement authorities across range, transit and destination States work together in a coordinated manner. It also serves to highlight that intelligence-led operations are essential in the fight against transnational organized wildlife crime,”

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers, supporters and, most importantly, the authorities involved in Operation COBRA II for its successful conclusion. I also encourage the officers who participated in the operation to continue to combat wildlife crime in a collective manner, drawing upon the new professional relationships they have established with their counterparts from other regions of the world,” added Mr Scanlon.

 Police, Customs and wildlife officers from Botswana, Brunei-Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, China including Hong Kong SAR, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the operation.

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