Wildlife exploiters tracked down

Wildlife traffickers brought to justice

Protected specimens seized by Guardia Civil. Credit/GuardiaCivil.es

In a sustained campaign aimed at shutting down wildlife trafficking in Spain, a staggering 421 animal specimens have been seized.

A recent operation led by the Guardia Civil and the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITERD), seized over 421 wild species valued in excess of €500,000, together with 107m³ of teak wood worth over €1 million from Myanmar, currently banned in the EU.

This crackdown, part of an extensive operation targeting illegal wildlife and protected wood trafficking, was reported on Sunday, March 3, and involved more than 1,000 inspections across customs, airports, ports, zoos, taxidermy shops, and antique stores throughout Spain.

Inspections reveal widespread violations

The operation unveiled 178 administrative violations, mostly for illegal possession and trade of wildlife. The majority of these offences involved lacking the necessary permits or markings required by current regulations.

Additionally, over 40 violations were noted for failing to adhere to the EUTR Regulation, Europe’s key legislative framework for timber trade.

One of the most notable seizures was 48 tonnes of heather in Jimena de la Frontera, Cadiz, intended for export to Italy for crafting smoking pipes and ornaments. This act of environmental theft highlights the relentless pursuit of profit at nature’s expense.

Notable seizures and collaborations

Among the critical findings was the investigation of four individuals linked to two zoological centres in Toledo, the suspects had 67 specimens for sale, including a snowy owl, two blue-chinned macaws, and several large cats like servals and caracals.

In Malaga, three were probed for illegally possessing and breeding protected species, including 10 Moorish tortoise specimens valued at €50,000; and a lion’s head, valued at €2,000.

These efforts underscore the Guardia Civil’s commitment to protecting biodiversity, with support from MITERD, Interpol, and the World Customs Organisation. These actions reflect a strategic approach to combating environmental crimes, as part of the LIFE SATEC project and the EMPACT Project by EUROPOL.

Furthermore, the operation’s international dimension was bolstered by the involvement of a Costa Rican Judicial Police officer in inspections in Valencia and Barcelona, highlighting global cooperation against environmental crimes.

The live animals have been transferred to rescue centres, illustrating the operation’s success in not only apprehending violators but also in conserving biodiversity for future generations.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.