INTERPOL wildlife operation results mark Global Tiger Day
LYON, France – INTERPOL is marking Global Tiger Day with the announcement of an operation aimed at protecting this iconic species and other big cats threatened with extinction and targeting the individual and organized crime groups behind the illicit activity.
Operation Prey, conducted across Bhutan, China, India and Nepal led has so far led to nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of big cat skins and other body parts as well as wildlife goods such as rhino horns, ivory and sea horses in addition to flora such as protected orchid and cactus plants.
Involving police, customs, environmental agencies, narcotics bureaus, forest protection authorities, health departments, immigration authorities and prosecutors, Operation Prey was conducted under the umbrella of Project Predator, an initiative to protect and save the world’s last surviving wild tigers.
“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.
Created by INTERPOL, Project Predator unites the efforts of police, customs and wildlife officials in the 13 countries in Asia where wild tigers can still be found. This new partnership under the Global Tiger Initiative brings together officials from the 13 tiger range countries, 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.
The Project Predator initiative will help develop capacity building with law enforcement agencies to combat tiger crimes, strengthening their ability to work with wildlife officials using advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation. In addition, the initiative will encourage countries to establish and resource National Environmental Security Task Forces.
The 13 Tiger Range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.