Global Wildlife Protection Operation Cobra II Achieves Impressive Results

credit 39  leopard skins seized at Ethopia South Sudan  2

From December 2013 through the end of January 2014, law enforcement officers from 28 countries conducted a ground-breaking, global operation to combat wildlife poaching and trafficking, code-named “Operation Cobra II.”  The month-long operation and capacity building activity promoted cross-border law enforcement cooperation and is drawing praise from the conservation community for its impressive results, including more than 400 arrests of wildlife criminals and 350 major wildlife seizures across Africa and Asia. Operation Cobra II also resulted in the seizure of 36 rhino horns, over three metric tons of elephant ivory, over 10,000 turtles, more than 1,000 skins of protected species, more than 10,000 European eels, and over 200 metric tons of endangered rosewood. Police, Customs, and wildlife officials from China, Africa, Southeast and South Asia, as well as the United States joined together with international enforcement agencies to stage the operation out of two coordination centers in Nairobi and Bangkok, with links to field operatives across Africa and Asia.  Among the many arrests were several wildlife kingpins.Operation Cobra II was financially supported principally by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Narcotics and International Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and African Elephant Conservation Fund and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Joint training exercises that led to Cobra were conducted by the Special Investigation Group on wildlife trafficking, which has received technical and financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program (ARREST), implemented by the counter-trafficking organization Freeland. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), another program partner, provided additional financial support, as did the Canadian Embassy in Kenya and participating countries. Freeland mobilized and provided financial, logistical and training support as well as tip-off information on wildlife trafficking syndicates.


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