Global CITES operation nets over 4500 endangered species in one day

02 February 2009
Global CITES operation nets over 4500 endangered species in one day

Brussels, 2 February 2009

The summary result of an intensive global one day CITES operation carried out by 90 Customs administrations across the globe on 15 January 2009 reveal seizures totalling 4,630 endangered live species as well as products and derivatives. These seizures included as many as 80 kinds of species, including ivory tusks, musk, tiger derivatives, caviar, rhinoceros horns, lynx, snow lotus, and lion skins with many of the species regarded as critically endangered and at the edge of extinction!

Approximately 10,000 Customs officers together with the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) 11 Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILO) participated in this exercise at the request of the WCO Secretariat in the lead up to International Customs Day on 26 January 2009 which was dedicated to the theme: “Customs and the environment: protecting our natural heritage”.

The operation was coordinated by the WCO Secretariat and targeted the trafficking of endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention). Customs officers supported by their national counterparts from CITES management authorities, reinforced controls at selected seaports, airports, and land boundaries. All participating Customs administrations were connected to CENCOMM, the WCO secure real-time communication system to share information and report seizures.

Among the 90 seizures reported, Australian Customs stopped 26 attempts to smuggle endangered species, Customs in Belgium seized more than 10 cases, raids by South African Customs led to the seizure at a butchery of 560 kg of abalone and 12 sharks fins, and in Spain, in one single case, Customs seized 80 pieces of up to 14 kinds of wildlife.

Almost all these endangered species were moved, or were ready to be moved, across the border without valid CITES documents, and at least 80% of them were stopped at airports. This indicates a high degree of non-compliance with CITES and national legislation.

This operation was only one of many actions taken by the international Customs community to fight this illegal trade. Customs will conduct more operations targeting other environmentally sensitive goods during 2009 in an effort to combat environmental crime.

More information