Wildlife Trafficking

In the past decade, wildlife trafficking – the poaching or other taking of protected or managed species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their related parts and products – has escalated into an international crisis. Wildlife trafficking is both a critical conservation concern and a threat to global security with significant effects on the national interests of the United States and the interests of our partners around the world.

Operation Cobra II Nets Wildlife Traffickers in Africa and Asia

Suspected Rhino Horn Trafficking

Credit: Operation Cobra II

The Service, working through the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and African Elephant Conservation Fund, was one of the principal supporters of "Operation Cobra II"- a ground-breaking, global operation to fight poaching and wildlife trafficking .Law enforcement officers from 28 countries just announced completion of the month-long operation, which resulted in more than 400 arrests of wildlife criminals and 350 major wildlife seizures across Africa and Asia, including seizure of over three metric tons of elephant ivory, 36 rhino horns and 1,000 skins of protected species.

Read more about Operation Cobra II.

Hearing: International Wildlife Trafficking Threats to Conservation and National Security

Director Dan Ashe, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking on February 26, 2014. To hear his testimony, click to 29:44 in the video timeline below.

National Geographic video on USFWS Ivory Crush


Public Meeting of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking Scheduled for April 23, 2015
April 2, 2015 - The Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking has announced its next meeting for Thursday, April 23, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Members of this non-government advisory body represent the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and others who are in a position to provide expertise and support to federal agencies working to combat wildlife trafficking. To attend the meeting in person, you must register by close of business on April 15, 2015. For more information on participating in the meeting, or submitting questions or comments, please refer to the Federal Register notice.

Implementation Plan for National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Released
February 11, 2015 - The U.S. Departments of the Interior, Justice, and State have released the implementation plan for the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Building upon the Strategy’s three objectives – strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation – the plan lays out next steps, identifies lead and participating agencies for each objective, and defines how progress will be measured.

Press Release
Implementation Plan
Director’s Blog
Fact Sheet

Safari Company Owners Charged in Rhino Hunt Scam
October 23, 2014 - The owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris today were charged with selling illegal rhino hunts to unsuspecting American hunters. The defendants allegedly failed to get required permits and later sold rhino horns on the black market. Demand for rhino horn is soaring: In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa. In 2013, poachers killed more than 1,000. Today's announcement and investigation are part of Operation Crash, an ongoing nationwide effort to halt unlawful trafficking of rhino horns. Since the initial arrest of eight in February 2012, there have been more than two dozen arrests and a dozen convictions.

Press Release
Photos from Press Event
Learn more about Operation Crash

Advisory Council Members

Announcement Archive

In the News

News Archive

Service ‘Crashes’ Down on Suspected Rhino Horn Trafficking

Suspected Rhino Horn Trafficking

Credit: USFWS

Operation Crash is an ongoing nationwide criminal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is addressing all aspects of U.S. involvement in the black market rhino horn trade.The first phase of this probe, which has focused on the unlawful purchase and outbound smuggling of rhino horn from the United States, has resulted in 15 arrests and nine convictions to date.(read more)

Charges filed against these defendants include conspiracy, smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion, bribery, and making false documents as well as violations of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act (a law that protects wildlife and plants from illegal trafficking). Eight of those arrested were taken into custody in February 2012 as part of a nationwide “takedown” that involved more than 140 law enforcement officers executing search warrants in 13 States. Successes in 2013 include the arrests and indictments of several other individuals (including Chinese and U.S. antiques dealers) who were operating a second large-scale rhino horn and elephant ivory smuggling network. (read less)

Read more about Operation Crash.

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