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Crackdown on Africa's Illegal Wildlife Trade

Posted Nov 18 2008 11:52am

Elephant A four-month investigation coordinated by Interpol led to the arrest of 57 suspected illegal wildlife traders in five African countries, reports The operation, according to the Interpol press release, involved more than 300 law-enforcement officers. The arrests took place at more than 50 locations throughout the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, confiscating a ton of elephant ivory, along with other prohibited commodities such as hippo teeth and leopard skins. 

Despite the ban on trading such items emplaced by the UN Convention on International Trade in Endagnered Species (CITES) in 1989, ivory is still sold internationally. In 1975, CITES enacted an international agreement; while it has stemmed the tide of illegal wildlife trade, it has not replaced national laws.

Due to what Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's executive director for police services, calls the "globalization of criminals," it is difficult to coordinate a crackdown. The current operation and its international coordination and effictiveness, Interpol hopes, is a sign of future success.

-- Hannah Buoye

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