By James A. Foley
A notorious wildlife trafficker and two of his accomplices have been captured in the Republic of Guinea. Ousmane Diallo, who is connected with the smuggling of more than 500 chimpanzees out of the West African nation, will receive the maximum penalty under laws aimed at wildlife traffickers.
Diallo will serve one year in prison and pay a fine of 50 million Guinean francs (about $7,000 USD), according to GALF (Guinée- Application de la Loi Faunique), a wildlife law enforcement group involved in the case.
Many African nations have similarly low penalties for wildlife trafficking crimes, with the punishment if caught often not outweighing the financial gains to be seen from breaking the law. Still, Diallo's sentence is being hailed as a breakthrough; just being able to successfully convict and imprison someone for crimes against wildlife in Guinea is a major accomplishment, according to Kevin Heath, editor of the UK-based Wildlife News.
GALF reports Diallo to have trafficked and sold more than 500 chimpanzees out of Guinea since 1994. Diallo has also reportedly trafficked untold numbers of hyenas and panthers, as well as a lion and thousands of birds.
GALF, along with INTERPOL, Guinea's Ministry of Environment and other agencies spent nine months investigating Diallo and recorded his illicit actions using hidden cameras, which GALF said "revealed a lot of information on international trade in great apes."
The surveillance also recorded Diallo boasting about his role in wildlife trafficking across Africa.
"In Africa, I touch everywhere, to Central Africa. Even those in Dakar, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Niamey, Bamako. When you say my name, they know me," Diallo was reported as saying. More....