Skip to main content

International wildlife operation seizes tons of ivory and rare animal products

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 6:42 AM EST, Tue February 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wildlife operation led by China nets tons of illegal animal products
  • Found: 10,000 live eels and asia turtles, over 2,000 live snakes
  • Operation had broad international support

(CNN) -- A wildlife operation involving dozens of countries and organizations, seized more than three tons of ivory and a bevy of rare wildlife products as well as rare wood.

Operatives found rare animals -- both living and dead -- during the international, month-long operation.

The China-led transnational effort, codenamed Cobra II, aimed to crack down on illegal wildlife trade. Authorities recovered over 10,000 live European eels and pig-nosed turtles, as well as over 2,000 live snakes, according to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency.

They also seized three tons of ivory, 36 rhino horns, and over 1,000 hides and skins from tigers, leopards and snakes as well as several hundred kilograms of pangolin scales from wildlife traffickers.

Activist battles illegal ivory trade
Yao Ming fights ivory trade in China
China destroys 6 tons of illegal ivory

The operation included 27 other countries including the United States. The effort had the support from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the World Customs Organization and Interpol, reported Xinhua.

During the operation, China's law enforcement officials suspected a Chinese man of being the head of an ivory trafficking group after customs staff at Taoxian Airport in northeast China found luggage containing 1,226 ivory beads, according to Xinhua.

Both Chinese and Kenyan police cooperated in the investigation and suspected that the man, whose last name was reported as Xue, operated a crime ring buying, transporting and selling ivory.

Xue was arrested in Nairobi, Kenya on January 17 and extradited to China, the news agency reported. His arrest marks the first time China has arrested a wildlife crime suspect overseas, the report said.

The Cobra II operation lasted from December 30 to January 26. It will "serve as a valuable model for the international community in future operations against transnational crimes," said Wan Ziming, director of the law enforcement department under the endangered species office in Xinhua.

The efforts uncovered over 200 cases with more than 250 suspects, according to Xinhua.

China accounts for around 70% of the global demand for ivory, which is known as "white gold" in the country. China has been under pressure to take more action to protect rare and endangered species and to fight the illegal trade.

China appears to have redoubled efforts tackling the ivory trade -- it destroyed 6.15 tons of ivory in January.

READ: China crushes tons of illegal ivory

READ: Hong Kong to burn stockpile of contraband ivory

READ: Connect the World blog: WWF: China's ivory destruction "fantastic sign"

CNN's Dayu Zhang contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
The massive street rallies that have swept Hong Kong present a major dilemma for China's leadership.
updated 3:07 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
Chinese wine drinkers need to develop a taste for the cheap stuff, not just premium red wines like Lafite.
updated 9:09 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, set off a media kerfuffle this month when he spoke about his next reincarnation.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
China has no wine-making tradition but the country now uncorks more bottles of red than any other.
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
ADVERTISEMENT