We are pleased to report that a major anti-poaching breakthrough has been made at Odzala-Kokoua National Park with the arrest of the kingpin of a regional ivory poaching and trafficking ring.
The arrest of Ngondjo Ghislain, alias "Pépito”, represents a coup for Park Manager Leon Lamprecht and his law enforcement team who have been working in extremely difficult circumstances to combat poaching in and around Odzala in recent months.
Pépito had long been suspected by park management to be a major poacher in the region, however, concrete evidence of his involvement was difficult to obtain. He was exposed in March when another wanted poacher, Iwelengue Mity, was arrested after two years on the run and gave details of Pepito’s activities. Mitty was in turn given away by two other poachers arrested in the park in recent months.
Odzala’s recently launched firearm amnesty programme also played a major role in the arrest of Pepito. In terms of this programme, owners of illegal firearms could surrender their firearms and receive temporary work as eco-guards. Statements from two people surrendering their firearms named Pepito as the person supplying the firearm or ammunitions, or as the buyer of ivory.
An arrest warrant for Pepito was issued by the regional prosecutor in Ewo on 23 April and the park’s anti-poaching team arrested him and an accomplice a few days later, with the assistance of the local Gendarme. After being taken to the Gendarme building, however, Pepito’s collaborators started rioting outside the building and park staff were forced to move him at night to Ewo where he is currently facing prosecution. Information gathered by the park’s intelligence officer indicated that several park eco-guards had been collaborating with Pepito by providing him with information on park patrol routes and planned ambushes. More....