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The announcement creating this special force was made on the occasion of the 17th session of the Conference of Parties of the CITES, of which Gabon has been a member since 1989. On the occasion of the international meeting held in the South African commercial capital until October 5, ANPN-GABON PARKS—a public institution under the supervision of the Presidency of the Republic— indicated it would start developing this innovative program with the Ichikowitzt Family Foundation to provide the new “task force” of resources necessary for its mission.
The special strength of rapid anti-poaching action will record its actions in line with the zero-tolerance policy against poaching expressed by Ali Bongo Ondimba, with clear objectives: lightning field intervention operated by poachers and traffickers, rapid response in forest areas difficult to access, projection capabilities against crime of transnational scale wildlife, and appropriate response to the increasing level of violence of poachers.
Expressing his satisfaction, Executive Secretary of National Parks, Lee White, praised the courageous and committed work of Gabonese eco-guards while stressing the growing danger of operations: “We must change our anti-poaching strategy to adapt our response. This partnership will enable us to have efficient equipment and adequate training so that we can better control the sovereignty of our natural heritage.”
Ivor Ichikowitz, the prime contractor of the eponymous foundation, welcomes the efforts made by President Bongo Ondimba to intensify the fight against the poach threat. “This special environmental protection unit for air assets will support the Government’s efforts to protect the world’s largest populations of forest elephants.” Gabon is now home to 60% of the world population of forest elephants. Recall that the elephant tusks are sold for 2,000 dollars per kilo in Asian markets. In ten years, 70% of herds have been decimated.