By Erick Kaglan
A high-profile ivory trafficker whose work activists say has fueled the slaughter of more than 10,000 elephants dating back to the 1970s has been arrested in Togo, the country's environment minister said Wednesday.
The trafficker, Emile N'Bouke, was found to be in possession of 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of ivory at the time of his arrest Tuesday afternoon at his shop in Lome, the capital, Dede Ekoue said.
It was the first arrest of its kind in the small West African nation, which has emerged in recent years as a main transit point for ivory bound for Asia and other markets, said Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization that began investigating N'Bouke late last year.
N'Bouke, 58, was known locally as "The Boss" because of his seniority in the country's ivory trade, which was banned globally in 1989.
Speaking to journalists after his arrest, he said he had been trading ivory since 1983 and had managed to obtain and renew a "special permit" despite the ban.
But Ekoue, the environment minister, said this was untrue, and vowed that Togo would crack down on the ivory trade more aggressively from now on.
"This activity can no longer prosper because the Togolese government is committed to discouraging further action from criminals who use our territory as a platform," she said. More....