The Spanish Civil Guard recovers 100 pieces of ivory, snake and lizard skins arranged for illegal sale in the Basque Country

The Spanish Civil Guard, within the framework of the RIB TOOL operation, has recovered 100 pieces of ivory, snake and lizard skins arranged for illegal sale in the Basque Country.9 people have been investigated for the crimes of species trafficking and animal abuse in the provinces of Álava, Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya and in the Autonomous Community of Cantabria. 

Those investigated sold elaborate pieces of ivory and python skins through the internet. SEPRONA agents, in collaboration with the Prosecutor’s Section and the DHL parcel service, intercepted parcels containing lizards and a royal python at the Foronda airport (Vitoria). The animals were in shoe boxes, they were dehydrated, and even had injuries, they did not meet the specifications required for their transfer, compromising their lives. Once the animals were discovered, the agents transferred them to the Karpin Abentura Recovery Center.

The online sale of ivory and protected snake skins was carried out without complying with the regulations governing the matter. Commercial transactions from the Basque Country to multiple provinces of the Spanish geography were detected and the advertisers were identified with the collaboration of the sales platforms. The value of the intervened ivory would amount to approximately 17,000 euros. 

Protected Species Trafficking

Specimens of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and its parts, as well as the products of this species, and those originating from snakes such as those found (Phitonidae), are included in Annex I and II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, (Washington, March 3, 1973) and in Annex A of Regulation (EC) No. 338/97, of the Council, of December 9, 1996, regarding the protection of species of wild fauna and flora through their trade, and their commercialization is prohibited.

Illegal trafficking and poaching of wild species is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide. The European Union approved the European Action Plan to combat illegal trafficking and international poaching of these wild species, adapted in Spain to apply the appropriate measures (PLAN TIFIES), in response to the call made by the UN to combat this problem. This has been a major challenge in the field of nature conservation worldwide, which aims to help put an end to this type of illegal activities.

unknown animals

The Civil Guard warns that the protection of fauna species included in the appendices of CITES (International Convention on Wildlife Trafficking) affects any living or dead specimen, as well as its parts or derivatives. If the origin of the specimens is not known at the time of acquisition, or of the parts that may have undergone any type of transformation, we must take into account that they could have the highest possible degree of protection. For this reason, it is noted that the actions of possession, announcement, trade or destruction of protected wildlife species must be documented regularly. Likewise, it is recalled that the shipment of live animals must be carried out by certified companies, providing the mandatory documentation that must accompany the animal (health card, CITES certificate,

The investigation has been coordinated with the different Delegate Sections of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the Environment and Town Planning of Álava, Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa.

This operation is part of the Spanish Action Plan against Illegal Traffic and International Poaching of Wild Species (TIFIES Plan), and the LIFE GUARDIANES DE LA NATURALEZA project.