Gabon: Trafficking in Ivory—A Filipino and his accomplice pinned down


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Translated from the French by an automated online translation service, so please excuse the roughness. See link for the French original.

See link for photo.

The commune of Mouila, capital of the province of Ngounié, has once again been the scene of an arrest of suspected ivory tusk traffickers. The facts took place on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 around 1 p.m. in a place where the concerned had made an appointment.

The preparation of an illicit ivory transaction having reached the agents of the Judicial Police (PJ) stationed in the said city, an intervention team was quickly formed. The mixed group was made up of officers from the Judicial Police and Water and Forests, supported by members of the NGO Conservation Justice.

Deployed at the location indicated, the agents immediately proceeded to the arrest of Mr. Alex ABAOU, of Philippine nationality and of Mr. Jean Baptiste MEZEME MBA of Gabonese nationality. They are both employees of the Forestière Mont Pelé Bois company, located 12 kilometers from Moabi.

They were in possession of four tusks intended for the illicit trade. The two alleged traffickers were taken into custody in the premises of the Judicial Police of Mouila pending the transfer to Libreville and their presentation before the Special Prosecutor’s Office to answer for the facts of detention and attempted sale of ivory without prior authorization.

The accused risk up to ten years in prison, in accordance with the provisions of article 388 of the Gabonese Penal Code.

Employees of companies active in the exploitation of timber are therefore involved in trafficking in animals or timber. And specifically protected species, such as kevazingo for wood and elephant ivory for wildlife. Some cases have been denounced recently, in particular vis-à-vis the Asian forestry companies WCTS, TBNI or the Dejia group by the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) and disseminated in the Gabonese media. Officially entering Gabon to exercise a legal activity, some take advantage of their presence in rural areas of the interior of the country to carry out transactions in products of the fauna or flora that feed the black market in the case of ivory or are bleached in the case of wood.