Wildlife Crime Seizure: 780 Elephant Ivory pieces at craft market Soumbédioune (Senegal)



Date Published

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

See link for photo. 

On August 22, at the Soumbédioune craft market, a large team of police elements of the Drame Commissioner for Urban Safety, in collaboration with officials of the Directorate of Water and Forests and WARA-SALF project, were deployed. Together, they proceeded to make arrests for the blatant offense of possession and illegal marketing of wildlife.

The result was that two suspected traffickers and their accomplices were arrested for trafficking and illegal international trade in contraband elephant ivory, hippo, warthog (warthog 403 pieces) and dandelions.

Following searches of homes that ensued, the five arrested were remanded in custody and contraband seized: 780 pieces of elephant ivory is 20kg! including raw ivory, teeth, hippopotamus, lions’ teeth, species all fully and fiercely protected because of their alarming disappearance from the wild and finalization in 20 years if illegal trade does not end immediately.

The two suspected traffickers and their accomplices were taken into custody in the premises of the Central Office and are being heard. If infringements are confirmed, the sentences could be very severe, up to 1 year in prison.

Remember, the goal of these arrests, again, is to give a strong signal to the traffickers of all nationalities as to the will of the Senegalese government to end this illegal trade to ensure the survival of species and fight organized crime.

The ivory and rhino horn has become a major concern for governments worldwide. Extremely lucrative, this business brings in more than $20 billion a year, involves members of organized crime and is linked to other types of traffic such as drugs, weapons, and money laundering.

More worryingly, terrorist movements such as Al Shabaab, the Janjaweed, Boko Haram to name a few, relentlessly hunt down elephants in the hundreds to finance their activities with ivory. These terrorist movements have become the pivots of the ivory trade in Africa.

Indeed ivory would provide about 40% of funds to Al Shabaab group to stay active and destabilize East Africa and Central. And these same terrorist groups concerned Senegal, which is in the phase of strengthening its security on the entire territory.

This concern also relates to West Africa. Thus do we notice that a fifth of Mali elephants were killed to supply the illegal ivory trade since early 2015, according to MINUSMA, (UN peacekeeping mission in Mali). This increase is related to the activities of jihadist groups in the country.