INTERPOL Arrests Break Key Tiger Smuggling Routes

Oct 08, 2010, 14:23 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

LYON, France, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A coordinated international law enforcement operation has led to the arrest of 25 individuals suspected of taking part in the illicit trade of tigers, one of the world's most endangered species.

The two-month operation involved national enforcement agencies in six tiger-range countries (China, India, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam) and was coordinated by INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Program at its headquarters in Lyon, France. "International collaboration in wildlife crime enforcement is critical to protecting species like tigers that are on the brink of extinction," said Fred O'Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

IFAW protects tigers by advocating for trade bans and reduction of consumer demand, preserving tiger habitat, conducting anti-poaching trainings in tiger ranger states and wildlife crime enforcement trainings around the world.

"Our supporters want to protect tigers, and that's one reason why IFAW has supported INTERPOL enforcement projects, including funding a Criminal Intelligence Officer for Wildlife since 2006. This arrest shows just how effective enforcement can be," said O'Regan.

In addition to the arrests, more than 50 kg of tiger bone – including skeletons and skulls – were seized and key smuggling routes broken up during raids across the six participating countries.

"The national agencies involved in this international operation supported by INTERPOL have shown unscrupulous criminals who target threatened species that action will be taken to combat their illegal activities," said INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Manager, David Higgins.

As few as 3,000 tigers remain in the wild as a result of loss of habitat and the involvement of organized criminal networks engaged in the illegal trafficking of their skins and bones. Fueled by this international black market in tiger body parts, poaching threatens to eliminate the remaining wild tiger population.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare