Interpol on Sunday marked the Global Tiger Day with the announcement that an operation launched to protect the endangered specie led to the arrest of nearly 40 people in some of the tiger range countries, including India.
‘Operation Prey’ was aimed at targeting the individual and organised crime groups behind the killing and trafficking of the big cats. The operation, conducted across India, Bhutan, China and Nepal, has so far led to nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of big cat skins and other body parts as well as wildlife goods, the Lyon-based global policing body said.
Involving police and other law enforcement agencies, ‘Operation Prey’ was conducted under the umbrella of Project Predator, an initiative to protect and save the world’s last surviving wild tigers.
“The range of goods recovered during an operation primarily aimed at tiger protection again shows that criminals will target any animal and any plant to make a profit at the expense of our environment and in the case of endangered species, their future,” said David Higgins, manager of Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme which coordinated ‘Operation Prey’.
“Interpol is proud to contribute to the global effort to save the world’s wild tigers and we will continue to work with our partners to identify and dismantle the criminal networks behind the illicit trade in wildlife,” Higgins said in a statement.
Created by Interpol, Project Predator unites the efforts of police, customs and wildlife officials in the 13 countries in Asia where wild tigers can still be found. The Project Predator initiative will help develop capacity building with law enforcement agencies to combat tiger crimes, strengthening their ability to work with wildlife officials using advanced, intelligence-led methods of investigation.
In addition, the initiative will encourage countries to establish and resource National Environmental Security Task Forces.
India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam are the 13 tiger range nations, the statement said.