Operation Red Tide: Multi-Agency Team Successfully Rescues Live Manatee from Wildlife Traffickers

In a groundbreaking operation named Operation Red Tide, a collaborative effort by a multi-agency law enforcement team, including officers from the Nigeria Special Wildlife Office, Nigeria Customs, Special Investigations Squad, Customs Police, and the Western Marine Command, led to the successful seizure of a live juvenile African manatee. The operation, fueled by intelligence from Focused Conservation Technical Advisors, targeted a wildlife trafficking group operating with impunity in Ikorodu, Nigeria, and across multiple African and Middle Eastern countries. The intricacies of the mission, involving the rescue of the endangered marine mammal, required meticulous planning to safely remove it from a private premises where it was being offered for sale in a concrete tank.

Named after the challenges it overcame, Operation Red Tide not only resulted in the arrest of the seller but also marked a historic milestone in wildlife law enforcement. The juvenile manatee, a species vulnerable to the illegal wildlife trade, faced a complex journey to safety. A local specialized veterinarian, with previous experience in collaboration with Focused Conservation, ensured the animal’s well-being during the operation. The manatee was carefully transported by vehicle to a nearby dock, where the NCS Boat Crew from the Western Marine Command skillfully ferried it across the lagoon to another dock. From there, the animal was lifted into another vehicle and transported to a park, where it will receive the care it needs. This unprecedented live manatee seizure underscores the dedication of law enforcement in tackling wildlife trafficking and protecting endangered species.

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