The Gabon-based NGO Conservation Justice, which CMS supports as one of several donors, has facilitated, in close cooperation with Gabonese authorities, what is probably the biggest arrest related to ape poaching yet in Africa!
Thirteen ape heads, 32 ape hands (gorillas and chimpanzees), 12 leopard skins and several elephant tails were confiscated during the operation. Three dealers were arrested and will be brought to justice.
A team comprised of Gabonese law enforcement officers, representatives of the Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF) and the Conservation Justice team planned the arrests, and carried them out on 13th January in Libreville. The arrested dealers confessed to having been involved in the animal parts trade for several years, and their impact on species numbers during this time must have been significant. Putting them behind bars will probably have a direct beneficial impact on the lives of hundreds of chimps, gorillas, leopards and other threatened species. The indirect effects of such crackdowns, such as a new awareness of the end of leniency towards wildlife crime in Gabon, should also be substantial.
Some months ago, Conservation Justice orchestrated a similar strike targeting ivory dealers. Despite several attempts to buy themselves free, the ivory dealers remain jailed, showing that enforcement is being taken seriously. Conservation Justice will work to ensure that prosecution is dealt with in a correct manner.
CMS congratulates Conservation Justice, the Gabonese law enforcement authorities involved and the Ministry of Water and Forests for these great successes, which send a clear message to all poachers that illegal activities will no longer be overlooked.