Interpol carries out global crackdown on illegal wildlife smuggling

Illegal wildlife smuggling is a threat to the wellbeing of our planet. Those who engage in such activities usually target rare and exotic species of wildlife.


Illegal wildlife smuggling could reduce as Interpol cracks down on such activities. This was the third such mission of the agency in recent years. The swoop down led to arrest of nearly 600 suspects. Alongside there was seizure of thousands of wild animals. These include a wide variety of birds, animals and reptiles. Interpol conducted the global operation. It was in coordination with the World Customs Organization (WCO). The operation covered 109 countries. It concentrated on normal trafficking routes and crime hotspots. The name of the operation was Thunderball based in Singapore. As a result, the suspects fell in the net. Wildlife seized included primates and big cats. In addition, there were birds, live reptiles, turtles and tortoises. Remember, smugglers always have their eyes on rare and exotic varieties. The reason is they fetch handsome prices. Therefore, smuggling of these species of wildlife is profitable.

Bangkok exotic pets at Chatuchak weekend market. [Image source/Bangkok Living Travel and Food YouTube video]

Interpol determined to stop illegal wildlife smuggling

Any smuggling is profitable to those who have access to necessary information. They have networks spread across the globe. In this operation, police were holding 582 suspects. Interpol informed about possibilities of further arrests and prosecutions. Apart from animals, birds, and reptiles, they also seized elephant tusks and ivory. Ivory is an attractive item and there is a demand. Read on to know more on ivory smuggling. It seems there is a flourishing illegal wildlife trade online. Consequently, it becomes difficult to trace the route or identify the persons involved. As a part of operation Thunderball, arrests have been made in Spain. Moreover, in Italy police seized hundreds of birds.

‘Budgie smugglers’ arrested trying to sneak 125 exotic birds out of Indonesia. [Image source/World News&EveryThing AbouT Life YouTube video]

Smuggling of elephant tusks

Illegal wildlife smuggling harms the environment. In addition, it has an impact on society. This is because of associated violence, money laundering and fraud. Earlier operations of Interpol during 2017 and 2018 resulted in seizures worth several million dollars. Incidentally, a court in Tanzania sentenced a Chinese businesswoman to 15 years in jail. Her age is 69, and she was known as Ivory Queen. She had smuggled tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia. These involve killing the animals. Census figures show that there was a drastic fall in Tanzania’s elephant numbers. The decline was from 110,000 in 2009 to just 43,000 by 2014.

3 tons of illegal ivory seized. [Image source/CBS News YouTube video]

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