Operation Thunderstorm: An international effort to combat wildlife crime
The Director General of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate, Sheldon Jordan, tells us about Operation Thunderstorm, a month-long international enforcement effort that took place in May, aimed at averting global illegal trade in wildlife, plants, and timber. The INTERPOL-led operation involved more than 90 countries, and it resulted in close to 2000 seizures worldwide of protected animals, plants, and associated products.
SHELDON JORDAN (DG Wildlife Enforcement): Operation Thunderstorm is a global operation that involved 93 countries along with INTERPOL, and World Customs Organization along with the CITES Secretariat.
In this operation, these countries focused during the month of May on all sorts of wildlife crime, whether it be plants, animals, timber. The results are spectacular. We and the world together, we seized over a tonne of elephant ivory, over eight tonnes of pangolin scales, 27,000 reptiles, tonnes of wood, 43 tonnes of wild meat including zebra, eel, elephant, bear. We had over 4,000 birds that were seized, including migratory bird nests; American ginseng; the results just keep going on and on and on.
What is important is that wildlife crime is actually the fourth largest crime by value in the world. It’s worth some $150 billion U.S. each year. When you compare it to other crime groups, it’s fourth in value following narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking. So this has a huge economic impact. But it also impacts ecosystems and it impacts species, especially endangered species.
So one of the things that we really want to get out there is that wildlife crime is important. It really hurts not only economies but it particularly hurts indigenous, rural, and isolated communities that depend on natural resources and renewable resources.
But we have another message: when 93 countries get together to fight wildlife crime, we can make a difference.