World Wildlife Day: Interpol calls for global action

Tuesday, March 03, 2015
[PHOTO: U.S. Army Environmental Command/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Lyon: INTERPOL is backing World Wildlife Day as part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts to support law enforcement around the globe in promoting environmental security.

With the theme ‘Wildlife crime is serious’, World Wildlife Day 2015 aims to raise awareness of the positive role which local communities can also play in helping curb this illegal trade, which is often linked to other forms of crime, including corruption and drug trafficking.

INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit works with all 190 member countries to protect and conserve the world’s natural resources from exploitation by criminals.

“The criminal networks behind wildlife crime make large illicit profits while their actions damage the environment and the economies of affected countries. Ultimately we are all poorer as our iconic wildlife and biodiversity are damaged irreparably,” said Glyn Lewis, INTERPOL’s Director of Specialized Crime and Analysis.

“Effectively combating environmental crime requires a collective effort and World Wildlife Day provides us with an opportunity to show our unity in this fight,” added Mr Lewis.

As a member of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime which includes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL strongly supports this powerful alliance to fight wildlife crime.

In 2014, a five-month-long INTERPOL-coordinated operation involving 13 countries targeting wildlife trafficking in tigers and other big cats across Asia resulted in the seizure of hundreds of animals and more than 160 arrests.

Last year also saw the launch of the first INTERPOL operation focusing on environmental crime fugitives, targeting more than 130 suspects wanted by 36 countries for crimes including illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking, illegal trade and disposal of waste, illegal logging and trading in illicit ivory.

Operation Infra (International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest) Terra, coordinated by INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit, has already led to several high-profile arrests including Feisal Ali, a Kenyan national suspected of leading an international ivory smuggling syndicate, and Rajkumar Praja, the ringleader of a rhino poaching network in Nepal.

One of the aims of INTERPOL’s Turn Back Crime campaign is to raise public awareness of the connection between organized crime and the illicit wildlife trade, encouraging people not to buy items which come from threatened species.

The campaign also encourages the private sector and the public to join forces and take an active role in supporting police activities to form a global alliance against organized crime.
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