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 juillet 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 juin 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 mars 2015

INTERPOL encourage l’action internationale lors de la Journée mondiale de la vie sauvage

INTERPOL soutient la Journée mondiale de la vie sauvage dans le cadre de son action visant à aider les professionnels de l’application de la loi du monde entier à promouvoir la sécurité environnementale.Sur le thème « Il est temps de s’attaquer sérieusement à la criminalité liée aux espèces sauvages », la Journée mondiale de la vie sauvage 2015...
23 février 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 février 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 octobre 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 septembre 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 juin 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 février 2014

INTERPOL consacre un rapport aux mesures de lutte contre le braconnage des éléphants et le trafic d’ivoire

NAIROBI (Kenya) – Alors que les saisies mondiales d’ivoire ont atteint des niveaux record en 2013, un rapport publié récemment par INTERPOL souligne la nécessité d’un accroissement de l’échange d’informations, ce qui permettrait une action plus proactive et plus efficace des services chargés de l’application de la loi à l’encontre des organisations de tra...
06 décembre 2013

Le Népal demande la diffusion d’une notice rouge INTERPOL à l’encontre d’un homme recherché pour braconnage de rhinocéros

LYON (France) – À la demande du Népal, INTERPOL a publié une notice rouge, ou avis de recherche international, à l’encontre de Rajkumar Praja, recherché pour braconnage de rhinocéros et commerce international de cornes de rhinocéros.Le Népalais de 30 ans est recherché en vue de l’exécution d’une peine de 15 ans de prison pour s’être livré au braconnage de...
29 novembre 2013

Une opération coordonnée par INTERPOL en Afrique conduit à la saisie d’ivoire et de bois de construction illégal

LYON (France) – Plus de 240 kg d’ivoire d’éléphant et 856 billes de bois de construction ont été saisis – et 660 personnes arrêtées – lors d’une opération de lutte contre le trafic d’ivoire et l’exploitation forestière illégale menée en Afrique orientale et australe, et coordonnée par INTERPOL.Menée dans le cadre des projets...
19 juillet 2013

INTERPOL fait analyser l’ADN de défenses d’éléphants saisies au Sri Lanka afin d’aider à combattre la criminalité liée aux espèces sauvages

COLOMBO (Sri Lanka) – Une équipe de spécialistes d’INTERPOL a prélevé des échantillons d’ADN sur 359 défenses d’éléphants saisies dans un chargement illicite au Sri Lanka, pour aider les autorités nationales à déterminer leur origine et pour identifier si possible les réseaux criminels responsables du braconnage à grande échelle des éléphants.L’...
22 juillet 2013

Opération INTERPOL menée avec le soutien de l’IFAW contre le trafic d’ivoire en Afrique occidentale et centrale

LYON (France) – Une opération coordonnée par INTERPOL, visant les organisations criminelles responsables du trafic d’ivoire en Afrique occidentale et centrale, a abouti à quelque 66 arrestations ainsi qu’à la saisie de près de 4 000 articles en ivoire, de 50 défenses d’éléphants, d’armes de guerre et d’argent en espèces.Dans le cadre du Projet Wisdom d’IN...
07 mars 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)