War on Ivory: INTERPOL Operation Sweeps Through Southern Africa
A transnational operation coordinated by INTERPOL targeting wildlife crimes across southern Africa has resulted in the location and closure of an illegal ivory factory, the seizure of nearly 400 kilos of ivory and rhino horn with a market value of more than one million dollars, as well as the arrest of 41 people. The two-day operation (13-14 May), codenamed Mogatle, involved nearly 200 officers from police, national wildlife, customs and national intelligence agencies across six countries – Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – who carried out inspections and raids on markets.
Operation Mogatle – named in honor of the late Professor Keitirangi Mogatle, assistant director of the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks and principle motivator behind effective wildlife law enforcement in Botswana – was the third multi – agency wildlife operation coordinated by INTERPOL. The first, operation Baba in November 2008, resulted in the arrests of nearly 60 people and the seizure of one ton of illegal elephant ivory following coordinated actions in Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The second, Operation Costa, November 2009, across Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda led to the arrest of more than 100 people and the recovery of 1.5 tons of ivory and hundreds of other illegal wildlife items.
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