KINSHASA: Congo-Brazzaville has meted out the highest sentence for wildlife crime with the conviction of poachers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the recent slaughter of 11 elephants.
A local district court slapped the culprits to five years’ imprisonment each and fined them culprits 5,5 million Central African Francs (CFA), equivalent to US$10,000 or R115,000 each, for the crimes that occurred in and around the northern Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in January.
They were apprehended after venturing deep into an ambush set up by park rangers earlier this month. The head of the poaching group is still at large, along with the two other members of the gang.
Authorities believe they are responsible for transferring many hauls of ivory from the Congo to the DRC.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) commended the conviction of the poachers who are said to have collectively removed nearly 400 kilograms of ivory from the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the last four years.
They reportedly have links to some of Congo’s most notorious elephant poachers and ivory traffickers, including Samuel Pembele, convicted in 2016.
“The convictions of three notorious poachers send a message that such activities will not be tolerated in one of Congo’s flagship protected areas,” said Mark Gately, WCS Congo Director.