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With funding from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, (www.ifaw.org), investigators from International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) – INTERPOL tackled the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade with the largest-ever African wildlife crime investigation.
Codenamed Operation Worthy, this crackdown in fourteen African nations resulted in the arrests of several dozen people and the recovery of more than 250 kilos of raw ivory, lion and leopard pelts, python and crocodile skins, and live birds. Illegal firearms and other contraband also were seized. Simultaneous raids occurred between March 1 and 9 in Swaziland, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia and Namibia.
"This is about bringing hard-nosed criminals to justice and stopping the cruelty that has been inflicted on thousands of elephants and rhinos," said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW’s Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness Program. "It is painfully clear that the situation on the ground for elephants is getting worse which is why IFAW has been planning this operation with Interpol since early last year."
Poaching of elephants for ivory remains a constant danger to wild herds. Recent estimates indicate more than 400 elephants have been killed by poachers.