By Rhishja Cota-Larson
In a continuing crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade in West Africa, four ivory traffickers have been arrested in Gabon, near the border of Cameroon.
The gang had seven elephant tusks in their possession, with “bigger stocks still hidden”, according to Ofir Drori of LAGA. Drori says more arrests may follow. One of the suspects is a Cameroonian and because he is the Imam (religious leader or chief) of the town, “there will surely be high pressure to release him”.
Gabon-based Conservation Justice and Gabonese authorities nabbed the traffickers while they were weighing ivory in a hotel room. The jurist who coordinated this operation, Yannick Owono, had been shot at in the same place on Christmas Day.
“These arrests are a big victory and a testament for [Owono's\ conviction and the spirit of activism on which we are founded,” Drori explained via email.
Working together in several countries allows us to conduct these international investigations easily, and trace routes of such trafficking lines from Gabon to Cameroon to Nigeria to Togo — and to the Far East.
LAGA — part of the EAGLE (Eco Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement) network — is recruiting Super Volunteers to help fight corruption. Visit Recruitment of Super Volunteers to learn more. And be sure to check out our Tackling Corruption in the Congo podcast, an interview with Naftali Honig of PALF.