Tag Archives: forest elephants

Army officer arrested for trafficking elephant meat in Congo

Khephren Fanga, Gabonews
November 23, 2014
BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo – on the 18th of November, a joint operationbetween the Forestry and Sustainable Development Ministry, the Gendarmerie and the PresidentialGuard, with the support of PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna), brought about the arrest of 5 traffickers, caught red-handed trafficking elephant meat to Brazzaville. The elephant meat, an integrally protected species, was seized along with other wildlife that were partially protected, as was a pistol and the vehicle the suspects used to traffic the contraband.
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“The Lieutenant, reputed in northern Congo for his involvement in the illegal ivory trade, is a major catch. While the Congolese law is strict for corrupt authorities, they often evade conviction. We have to stop the impunity if we are to stop this trend in Central Africa which is threatening forest elephants with extinction.”said Naftali Honig, PALF Coordinator.
This is the first time an officer in the Congolese armed forces is transferred to Court. He, along with two other corrupt accomplices, spent 2 days in custody where they were interrogated about the nature of their infractions. “Their sense of being above the law was palpable,” said Honig. “They loosely threw around the names of Colonels and Generals they claimed to be affiliated with, in an effort to scare the officers charged with interrogating them. I hopethis feeling of impunity has crashed now that they’re in the Brazzaville Prison.”
News of the arrest spread quickly in Congo, and talk of the subject could be heard in northern Congo, as some were shocked to learn that a vehicle could be intercepted.
PALF is a member of the EAGLE Network. EAGLE Network has projectslike PALF bringing about arrests and prosecutions in eight countries in Africa, soon to be more.

Elephant killer gets five years in prison in the Republic of Congo

Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com
August 01, 2013

The Congolese Supreme Court has ordered Ghislain Ngondjo (known as Pepito) to five years in prison for slaughtering dozens of elephants for their ivory tusks. The five year sentence is the maximum in the Republic of Congo for poaching. Ngondjo was considered the “kingpin” of an elephant poaching group; in addition to killing pachyderms, Ngondjo recruited new poachers and made death threats to park rangers and staff in Odzala National Park.

“Congo is ground zero for the fight to save Africa’s forest elephants from extinction, and the arrest and successful prosecution of Pepito shows that we can win this war when governments and the NGO community work together in partnership,” says James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Africa Program.

Conservationists have long called on governments to hand down stiffer penalties to poachers and other wildlife criminal, many of whom are released with little more than a slap on the wrist.

“The Republic of Congo’s Minister of Justice and Congolese Supreme Court of the Republic of Congo and have sent a clear message that the theft and pillaging of Congo’s wildlife heritage by criminal poachers and traffickers will not be tolerated,” Deutsch added.

It took several years to catch and prosecute Ngondjo, according to WCS, which worked closely with the government and African Parks Network. A partnership between WCS and the Aspinall Foundation, PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna Republic of Congo), proved instrumental to the outcome.

Ngondjo had run amok in the Cuvette-Ouest Department for a decade and had reportedly cultivated connections on high to avoid arrest and  prosecution, but eventually his luck ran out.

Two other poachers were tried with Ngondjo: one received a five year sentence, the other two years.

Elephant poaching has hit record levels in recent years with elephant populations in Central Africa especially hard hit. Forest elephants, which are largely found in the Congo Basin, have been decimated: a recent study found that the population had been cut down by 60 percent in the last decade due to poaching. Experts estimate that 35,000 elephants were killed in 2012 for their tusks.