By Khephren Fanga
Activists in the fight against ivory trafficking and gendarmes were victims yesterday in Brazzaville, capital of Congo, of ivory traffickers during a search in the house of a notorious wildlife criminal, François Ikama.
Already in 2008, Mr. Ikama, one of the largest dealers in Congo had been arrested for ivory trade but received a relatively small penalty and then in a second arrest in 2013, it was his son, Marien Ikama who came to his aid by violently threatening the gendarmerie to leave his home, where they had come to take him.
Yesterday during a search of his home, the gendarmerie assisted by the LATF (Lusaka Agreement Task Force), was brutalized by Marien Ikama and his cronies. During the altercation, many policemen were injured, one seriously in the face.
Much ivory was seized. Much was left. PALF, which manages a sniffer dog program, was present with dogs that detected a lot of ivory. But why then was the ivory left? Influence peddling.
Impunity towards major ivory traffickers is the main concern in the fight against the ivory trade. So far, no corrupt authority has been convicted despite several arrests.
The ivory trade in the Congo has grown without measure that traffickers now feel above the law. Despite the strict legislation that exists against wildlife crime, impunity, influence peddling and corruption prevailing in this area have made sure to bolden criminals to the point of attacking the forces of order.
A month before the international conference against illicit trafficking and exploitation of wild fauna and flora to be held in Congo, this case demonstrates that beyond the words and resolutions without further action, Africa must take strong and unprecedented measures to ensure that such acts never happen again.