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Vol 55 No 4

Published 21st February 2014

Tackling the trade in endangered species

With promises of funds and the destruction of ivory stockpiles, China and the USA – the two main markets for illegal wildlife products – are now racing to fight the criminal trade and win favour in Africa

Chinese police and Kenyan conservationists worked hand in hand in Nairobi in mid-January to secure the arrest of the Chinese boss of an ivory smuggling ring and two other suspects. Operation Cobra II – led by China and backed by 28 countries including the United States and South Africa – formed part of an international crackdown on the illegal trade in protected species. The head of the poaching and smuggling network, known only as Xue and branded a cheapskate by the Chinese media for the low rates of pay earned by his gang, was extradited to China, where further arrests were made. Wildlife poaching is now a matter of national security for African countries. The Global Financial Integrity organisation reckons that the global illegal wildlife trafficking racket is worth some US$19 billion a year and ranks as the fourth-largest transnational crime in the developing world.

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