Customs, police and wildlife officers from Asia, Africa and the U.S. have launched a cross-border enforcement operation, known as “COBRA,” to crack down on wildlife crime syndicates.
The month-long operation from Jan. 6 to Feb. 5 targeted species under serious threat, such as big cats, elephants, rhinos, pangolins and great apes.
Operation COBRA yielded hundreds of arrests and resulted in the seizure of assorted wildlife specimens such as 1,550 kilograms (about 3,417 pounds) of shahtoosh (representing the killing of almost 10,000 Tibetan antelope to harvest the wool); 92,594 pounds of red sander wood; 14,330 pounds of elephant ivory; 2,600 live snakes; 324 hornbill beaks; 102 pangolins; 1,764 pounds of pangolin scales; 22 rhino horns; four rhino horn carvings; 10 tiger trophies; seven leopard trophies and 68 pounds of elephant meat. The haul also included claws and teeth of protected felid animals and plant species, as well as assorted equipment such as firearms and ammunition recovered from poachers.
“Operation COBRA focused on the quality of investigations over the quantity of seizures, so the vital intelligence gathered by the team from this operation will be very useful in ongoing joint investigations,” said Wan Ziming, director of law enforcement and training at the CITES Management Authority of China, in a written statement.