Russia gifts guns to Gabon to fight elephant poaching



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Russia’s defence ministry has donated weapons to Gabon to help the central African nation battle poachers and protect elephants.

The ministry did not specify how many weapons were provided, saying only that the delivery consisted of “firearms aimed at helping the government in its fight against poaching and the protection of national parks.

“Above all, this is about ensuring the protection of the country’s forest elephant population,” a defence ministry statement said overnight Thursday-Friday.

Much of Gabon is still covered by forests and home to nearly 60 percent of Africa’s forest elephants.

Libreville has recently pursued a more aggressive conservation policy with water and forests minister Lee White saying in September that elephant poaching had been significantly curbed following China’s decision to ban trade in ivory in 2017.

Russia has been stepping up its efforts to gain influence in Africa, signing arms deals with a slew of countries and in October hosting dozens of African leaders for a summit in its southern city of Sochi.