African Smugglers Arrested in 4 Nations

Where do you go with a thousand African grey parrots? Directly to jail, as it turns out. A four-nation smuggling sting in Central Africa turned up thousands of dollars worth of ivory, turtle shells, pelts, and parrots. The arrests, which spanned Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo, are being hailed by conservationists as a breakthrough for the enforcement of laws protecting endangered species. A law-enforcement NGO conducted the sting and said that, for the first time, poachers were actually going to jail for their crimes. "This shows ... authorities are now prepared to monitor, hunt down, condemn and imprison ivory dealers," the head of the group said. In the past, poachers and smugglers have enjoyed complicity with corrupt government officials; revenue from the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be from $10-20 billion annually.