interpolaward_sm.jpgLast November, Operation Baba, a five-country law enforcement operation in Africa co-ordinated by INTERPOL with the support of The Humane Society of Canada and other dedicated groups, resulted in the arrest of 57 people and the seizure of one ton of illegal elephant ivory. The one-day sweep targeted more than 50 locations, including local ivory markets, airports, border crossings and smuggling points involving more than 300 law enforcement officers from police, customs, national wildlife and national intelligence agencies in Congo (Brazzaville), Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, and represented the largest-ever international wildlife law enforcement operation conducted in Africa.

We are proud to continue with our longstanding relationship with INTERPOL as they continue with their worldwide crackdown on these international organized crime syndicates. Once these syndicates discover a successful pipeline, they often work with others to smuggle contraband, weapons, drugs and people.

Illegal domestic ivory markets have been persistently identified as a major factor in continued poaching of elephants and illegal trade in ivory. Operation Baba was named to honour the memory of Gilbert Baba, a Ghana Wildlife Department ranger who was murdered by illegal wildlife dealers a decade ago.

Day after day, these wildlife rangers are on the front lines of animal protection, facing wildlife traffickers armed with automatic weapons, high tech gear, and the fastest planes, four wheel drive vehicles and boats – all bought and paid for with the lives of vanishing wildlife and the lives of rangers killed in the field.

And when they fall in action, the rangers’ wives and children are left behind to fend for themselves. That’s why we set up The Ranger Fund in cooperation with INTERPOL to try and provide the families of these fallen heroes with support to buy food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

Operation Baba is the first in a series of operations of this nature being planned worldwide, and we will work alongside INTERPOL and our law enforcement colleagues around the world every step of the way.

Later this year, The Humane Society of Canada will bestow its prestigious Heroes for Animals Award to INTERPOL for its tireless efforts to combat wildlife traffickers worldwide.

INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 187 member nations. Created in 1923, and headquartered in Lyons, France, the agency facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime. A list of the member countries can be found here.