By Khephren Fanga
Last June 23rd, Mr. ASSOUMOU NDONG Modeste and ladies NGANDOU Charlotte, NTSAME NDONG Mireille were arrested by an Anti Poaching Program patrol in the Guiétsou area in possession of a large quantity of game. Among them were several fully protected species: eleven aquatic chevrotains and a giant pangolin. The prosecution presented the same day by the Provincial Directorate of Waters and Forests, they have been in custody at the Remand Mouila waiting to appear in court.
The following day, during a surveillance mission on the Mandji-Peny road, team officials from the Anti Poaching Program and the Water and Forests office in Mandji again caught a band of poachers in full pursuit: Jean Romain MBAGUI, Olivier Jean MOUANANDI and Guy Roger MOUSSAVOU, head of the gang and prison security guard in Mouila. Aboard their vehicle, a tusk of ivory and several fully protected species including five (5) dwarf crocodiles, two (2) white paw duikers and one (1) giant pangolin.
In the first case decided on June 27th, Jean Romain MBAGUI and Jean Olivier MOUANANDI were sentenced to three months imprisonment and fined of 300.000 FCFA (620 US dollars) and Guy Roger MOUSSAVOU head of the gang and prison security guard in Mouila somehow escaped with only a “fine” of 300.000 FCFA (620 US dollars).
In the second case, after the hearing on July 17th, Mr. Modeste ASSOUMOU NDONG and ladies NGANDOU Charlotte and NTSAME NDONG Mireille were sentenced to 30 days and a 300,000 FCFA (620 US dollars) fine each.
The decisions do not appear to reflect the seriousness of the acts, knowing that we are dealing with fully protected species and according to the Gabonese Forest Code, hunting, possession, transportation and marketing of fully protected species are prohibited and any violation is punishable by 3 to 6 months in prison with fines ranging from 100,000 FCFA to 10 million FCFA (210 – 21000 US dollars).
The involvement and commitment of various authorities including judicial authorities, is necessary if one refers to the government policy of good governance and sustainable management of natural resources. Otherwise, Gabon will become a hub of international wildlife trafficking, such as the current situation shows. Indeed, seizures of several tons of ivory are made in West Africa and in Asia with its origin Gabon, and became one of the main countries concerned today by the ivory trade.