Officials from Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Program are teaming up to combat environmental crime such as the killing of elephants and the theft of timber.

Achim Steiner, the U.N. Environmental Program's executive director, said Wednesday that some 500 experts from around the world are meeting in Nairobi this week to try to arrest "a rapidly escalating environmental crime wave."

The groups said internationally coordinated enforcement efforts must be stepped up to prevent wildlife and timber cartels from escaping law enforcement efforts by shifting operations from one region to another.

UNEP says that global syndicates behind the poaching of animals, the illegal shipping of toxic waste and the cutting down of the world's forests steal tens of billions of dollars from communities around the world every year.