The illegal ivory trade is the biggest threat to elephants in the wild.

The issues

Between 1970 and 1989, the worldwide demand for ivory caused elephant populations to decline to dangerously low levels.

In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibited international commercial trade in all elephant ivory.

However, since 2010, record numbers of elephants have been reported poached, and record amounts of contraband ivory have been seized by authorities, each year surpassing the previous. 

Since 2008, African and Asian rhinoceros populations have also been experiencing unprecedented intensification of poaching. Two sub-species, the Northern White Rhinoceros and the Western Black Rhinoceros, have been shot into extinction during the past five years.

This situation represents a major call for action for the international law enforcement community to combat the illegal trade of ivory and rhinoceros horns.

The response

Project Wisdom supports and enhances the governance and law enforcement capacity for the conservation of elephants and rhinoceros.

Among others, the project has the following core objectives:

  • Encourage communication, cooperation and collaboration with respect to intelligence exchange, cross-border investigations and training courses;
  • Contribute to the apprehension of criminals and organized groups;
  • Develop a global picture of the criminal activity hindering the ongoing conservation of elephants and rhinoceros;
  • Reduce wildlife crime in Africa;
  • Support and coordinate law enforcement operations;
  • Provide case-oriented assistance;
  • Emphasize deterrence as well as intelligence-led law enforcement;
  • Contribute to broader civil objectives.

A global objective is to help develop effective governance and rule of law and improve the quality of the criminal justice response to this type of crime. The aim is to empower and instil ownership of the issue into the entire departmental structure. Linking wildlife crime to issues associated with national security, economy and health is fundamental to achieving this result.

Project Wisdom also works to assure a more comprehensive application of law enforcement resources, such as improvements in governance and rule of law. Trafficking in ivory and rhinoceros horn has become intimately linked to issues involving national security, and social and economic stability.

Operational support

Since 2008, INTERPOL has coordinated seven operations targeting ivory and rhinoceros horn traffickers – Baba, Costa, Mogatle, Ahmed, Worthy, Wendi and Wildcat – which collectively resulted in the arrests of 1,180 persons charged with ivory and rhinoceros horn-related offences.

Two ivory factories were identified and shut-down, conviction rates exceeded 80 per cent, and the operations recovered more than five tons of raw ivory and around 50,000 carved ivory items such as bracelets, signature seals and cigarette holders. Twenty kilograms of rhinoceros horn were seized in Operation Worthy alone.

Large numbers of live parrots and crocodiles, big cat pelts, snake and crocodile skins, bushmeat and other illegal wildlife products were also seized, along with non-wildlife contraband, including illegal military firearms such as AK-47s, G3s and M16s.


Project Wisdom - news
28 julio 2015

Elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking cases addressed at INTERPOL meeting

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Sharing investigative information on elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking was the focus of a Regional Investigative and Analytical Case Meeting for southern Africa.The four-day (20 – 23 July) meeting, held at INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Harare and supported by INTERPOL’s environmental security unit enabled 25 officials from...
05 junio 2015

INTERPOL operation against wildlife trafficking marks World Environment Day

LYON, France – An INTERPOL operation against wildlife trafficking has served as a reminder on World Environment Day of the essential role played by transnational law enforcement collaboration in protecting the world’s natural resources from the harm caused by environmental crime.Undertaken between April and May of this year across 17 countries in Asia and...
03 marzo 2015

INTERPOL promueve una acción global en el Día Mundial de la Naturaleza

INTERPOL respalda la celebración del Día Mundial de la Naturaleza, en una muestra más del apoyo que presta a las fuerzas del orden de todo el planeta para promover la seguridad medioambiental.Bajo el lema “Tomemos en serio los delitos contra la vida silvestre", el Día Mundial de la Naturaleza de 2015 tiene por objetivo concienciar sobre el papel posi...
23 febrero 2015

Zambia hosts INTERPOL training session against wildlife crime

LUSAKA, Zambia – INTERPOL has held a wildlife crime training course to enhance the skills of police and wildlife officials from Malawi and Zambia in effectively enforcing environmental laws.With a keynote address at the opening ceremony by Zambia’s Inspector General of Police, Stella M. Libongani, trainees from Police, Environmental Authorities and Custom...
16 febrero 2015

Nepal’s top wildlife criminal nabbed in Malaysia

LYON, France – Nepal’s most wanted wildlife criminal and the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, has been arrested in Malaysia following close international collaboration via INTERPOL channels.Rajkumar Praja, the ringleader of a rhino poaching network in Nepal, is wanted to serve a 15-year sentence for rhino poaching and trading internationally in rhino ho...
07 octubre 2014

INTERPOL announces formation of dedicated environmental crime team in Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya – To further support its member countries in the fight against illegal ivory trafficking and other environmental issues, INTERPOL has established a dedicated team to tackle these crimes in Africa.Located within the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for East Africa in Nairobi, the environmental crime team will act as an extension of INTERPOL’s Enviro...
19 septiembre 2014

INTERPOL holds wildlife crime training in Namibia

WATERBERG, Namibia – INTERPOL has conducted a wildlife crime training course in Namibia to enhance the skills of the country’s police and government officials in effective enforcement of environmental laws.Some 19 participants from the Namibia Police Protected Resources Unit and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism attended the week-long training sessi...
24 junio 2014

Illegal trade in wildlife and timber products finances criminal and militia groups, threatening security and sustainable development

NAIROBI, Kenya (24 June) -Global environmental crime, worth up to USD213 billion each year, is helping finance criminal, militia and terrorist groups and threatening the security and sustainable development of many nations, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL.The Environmental Crime Crisis, a rapid r...
25 febrero 2014

INTERPOL publica un informe sobre la lucha contra la caza furtiva de elefantes y el tráfico de marfil

NAIROBI (Kenia) –  Tras los decomisos récord de marfil realizados en 2013 en todo el mundo, INTERPOL ha presentado un nuevo informe en el que hace hincapié en la necesidad de intercambiar más información para una reacción más activa y eficaz de las fuerzas del orden frente a las organizaciones que se dedican al tráfico de marfil.El informe, elaborado...
06 diciembre 2013

Nepal solicita la publicación de una notificación roja de INTERPOL sobre un cazador furtivo de rinocerontes

LYON (Francia) – A petición de Nepal, INTERPOL ha publicado una notificación roja (o aviso internacional sobre personas buscadas por la justicia) sobre Rajkumar Praja, buscado por caza furtiva de rinocerontes y comercio a escala internacional de cuernos de dicho animal.  Este nepalí de 30 años es buscado para el cumplimiento de una condena de 15...
29 noviembre 2013

Decomiso de marfil y madera ilegal en África en una operación coordinada por INTERPOL

LYON (Francia) – Durante una operación contra el tráfico de marfil y la tala ilegal en África Austral y Oriental coordinada por INTERPOL se incautaron más de 240 kg de marfil de elefante y 859 troncos de madera, y se procedió a la detención de 660 personas.Esta operación, llevada a cabo en el marco de los proyectos WISDOM y LEAF de INTERPOL, iba doblement...
19 julio 2013

INTERPOL analiza el ADN de unos colmillos de marfil decomisados en Sri Lanka para ayudar a combatir los delitos contra las especies silvestres

COLOMBO (Sri Lanka) – Un equipo especializado de INTERPOL tomó muestras de ADN de 359 colmillos de elefante que formaban parte de un alijo de marfil decomisado en Sri Lanka, con el objetivo de ayudar a las autoridades nacionales a determinar el origen de los colmillos y para tratar de identificar a las redes delictivas que están detrás de la caza furtiva...
22 julio 2013

El tráfico de marfil en África Occidental y Central, eje central de una operación de INTERPOL respaldada por el IFAW

LYON (Francia) – Una operación dirigida por INTERPOL contra las organizaciones delictivas dedicadas al tráfico de marfil en África Occidental y Central ha conducido a la detención de unas 66 personas y el decomiso de cerca de 4.000 artículos de marfil y 50 colmillos de elefantes, además de armas de guerra y dinero en efectivo.La operación WENDI, integrada...
07 marzo 2013

Online ivory trade worth millions, INTERPOL report reveals

LYON, France – An INTERPOL report to identify the drivers and scale of the illegal online trade in ivory has revealed hundreds of items worth approximately EUR 1.45 million for sale on Internet auction sites across nine European countries during a single two-week period.During Project Web, supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the...

Operation Wendi

Operation Worthy

INTERPOL - IFAW Operation Worthy 2012

INTERPOL - IFAW Environmental Crime Training Programme

BBC Panorama ‘Ivory Wars: Out of Africa’ (Part 1)