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WWF: Stiff Sentence for Rhino Horn Smuggler is Game Changer in Wildlife Trafficking Fight

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has issued the following statement in response to the 70-month jail sentence given to Zhifei Li by US authorities on May 27, 2014 for leading a rhino horn and elephant ivory smuggling operation, valued at over $4.5 million, between the US and China:

“This is one of the longest sentences ever for wildlife trafficking in the United States. It’s also a sign that poaching and illegal trade don’t pay off. Wildlife crime should be seen as a serious crime, with serious penalties. The days when the benefits far outweighed the risks for criminals involved in exploiting endangered species are waning,” said Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President, Wildlife Conservation, WWF. “This sentencing and the undercover investigation that preceded it, along with the announcement of the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking this year, highlight the need for greater resourcing of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Justice to continue to tackle such cases, as criminals are still reaping billions in profits and contributing to the extinction of treasured wildlife.”