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IFAW enforcement training prompts unprecedented wildlife seizure in Caribbean, 1000+ animals confiscated - 4 June 2009

In the Caribbean twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, three corrupt police officers were arrested this week for stealing over one thousand protected animals from Venezuelan wildlife smugglers.

On Saturday, the accused parties reportedly received information that two men had arrived on the beach in a boat stacked to the brim with protected wildlife species from Venezuela. The officers then went to the beach and robbed the men at gunpoint. Over 500 bull finches, 300 picoplats, 400 pounds of wild meat, monkeys, parrots, macaws and other animals were taken.

The game wardens involved in later making these arrests were trained in Trinidad & Tobago by wildlife trade experts at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) just over a year ago. Among the topics of the training were – how to spot and address wildlife crime and how to humanely confiscate and shelter the animals.

According to IFAW’s Senior Program Officer in the Wildlife Trade Program, Kelvin Alie, who was also a trainer at the 2007 Trinidad training, “This is a major victory for IFAW’s global Wildlife Law Enforcement Training Program and we are thrilled to have created an environment where wildlife officers are properly prepared for spotting and making these kinds of wildlife crime busts.”

This wasn’t the only seizure this week. On Tuesday, two men were arrested with illegal possession of approximately 100 protected birds.

Currently, the animals are being held at the Emperor Valley Zoo in Port-of-Spain. The fate of the birds and other species will rest on the verdict of the case. If the cases are won, native species will be released into the wild.

For media-related inquiries, contact:
Colleen Cullen (IFAW, Headquarters)
Tel: +1-508-648-3586
Email: ccullen@ifaw.org