By Daniel N’Doh Nadjitan
Chadian authorities captured a man they accused of leading a group of poachers that killed 89 elephants in a single night in March, Environment Minister Mahamat Issa Halikimi said.
Hassan Idriss, also known as Gargaf, is suspected of slaughtering 192 of the animals since August, Halikimi told reporters in the capital, N’Djamena. Idriss, who was presented to journalists today along with 124 tusks that were seized when he was captured on June 13, led a gang of more than 50 poachers who hunted the pachyderms on horseback, he said.
“It is unacceptable that lawless men roam our forests and carry out massacres of large animals when efforts to protect the environment in our country are well recognized internationally,” Halikimi said.
The killing of the 89 elephants on the night of March 14 and 15 was the worst poaching incident in the region since February 2012, when 300 of the animals were killed in Cameroon. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the illegal trade in wildlife is worth $19 billion a year, the fourth-largest illict market after narcotics, counterfeit products and human trafficking, according to its website.
Idriss has been operating in the central Cameroon-Chad border region since 2011, Halikimi said. In addition to the attack in March, Idriss is also accused of poaching 63 elephants in August 2012, and a further 40 in October in which five Cameroonian forest rangers were killed, he said.
Chad plans to establish a monitoring centre to step up the fight against poachers, Halikimi said.