The arrest of four traffickers, including three Congolese and one from the DRC, took place on Friday, September 30, 2016. They were arrested with 35 kg of ivory, by the elements of the national police, with the assistance of agents of water and forests as well as those supporting the project for the application of the wildlife Act (PALF).
These wildlife offenders were arrested for killing of elephants and ivory marketing; we can estimate that five elephants were killed. The offenders were sentenced to more than five years of imprisonment.
Elephants in the Republic of Congo are a fully protected species as stipulated in Article 27 of the Congolese law on the protection of wildlife: “Import; export; detention and transit on the national territory fully protected species; and their trophy is strictly prohibited; unless special dispensation of water and forest administration; for the purposes of scientific research.”
The agents of the national gendarmerie have welcomed these arrests and intend to refer the offenders to the Ouesso prosecutor’s office as soon as possible so that they can answer for their actions. They also promised to multiply their strategies to effectively combat poaching. The looting of the particular wildlife, and biodiversity in general, by several crooked and corrupt citizens are frequent in Congo. It is for the court to strictly punish these acts, to create deterrents and foster awareness. Several studies point to the demise of elephants in Congo. Indeed, the elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes worldwide according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Recall that the elephant enjoys absolute protection in the Republic of Congo after a 1991 decree and an act of the Sovereign National Conference. The forest Tri-National Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TRIDOM) is particularly affected by large-scale poaching as shown by the results of the inventories of elephants and DNA analysis of ivory seized in Asia. The area is known as one of the hottest places in Africa for the ivory trade and elephant poaching. The Republic of Congo is among the African leaders in the fight against wildlife crime, as demonstrated, for example, by the organization in Brazzaville in April 2015 of the International Conference on the Illegal Exploitation and Illicit Trade in Wild Flora and Fauna in Africa. Better law enforcement in the Congo against ivory traffickers would be a strong message to confirm this commitment to protect its legacy.