By Becky Evans
An ivory trafficker whose work is suspected to have fuelled the slaughter of more than 10,000 elephants over 40 years has been arrested.
Emile N'bouke, 58, known as 'The Boss', was detained in the Togo capital Lome where police found 1,500lbs (700kgs) of ivory at his shop.
Activists say N'bouke is not only a buyer of illegal ivory but helped finance poaching targeting elephants throughout Central Africa.
Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization that began investigating N'Bouke late last year, said N'bouke had been operating since 1976.
He said N'bouke's activities likely led to the killing of 'dozens of thousands'.
N'Bouke's arrest is the first 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, Mr Drori said.
Speaking to journalists after his arrest, N'bouke said he had been trading ivory since 1983 and had managed to obtain and renew a 'special permit' despite the global ban in 1989.
Togo environment minister Dede Ekoue said this was not true and vowed the country would crack down on the ivory trade more aggressively from now on.
She said: '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.'
Col Yao Kondi, head of the anti-trafficking squad, told the BBC that five tusks were seized and described N'bouke as a 'kingpin' in the ivory trade. More....