By Robbie Corey-Boulet
The small West African nation of Togo made its first major arrest this week in the fight against what activists say is a burgeoning illegal ivory trade. The suspect, 58-year-old Emile N’Bouke, has allegedly been active for decades in a trade that contributed to the deaths of more than 10,000 African elephants.
N’Bouke was widely known as “The Boss”. For nearly four decades, activists said, he operated out of a small shop in Togo’s capital, Lome, arranging deals with clients in Asia and potentially the United States.
That came to an end on Tuesday afternoon, when authorities arrested him at his shop in an operation that uncovered more than 700 kilograms of ivory products.
How he was caught
N’Bouke’s arrest was spurred by an investigation begun late last year by the Last Great Ape Organization, which pushes for the enforcement of wildlife laws in West and Central Africa. The organization works in six countries, including those where elephants are poached, such as Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo.
It also works in transit countries such as Togo and Guinea, where ivory is shipped to global markets.
Ofir Drori, the organization’s founder, said he is convinced that by focusing on transit countries, officials can do much to curtail the slaughter of elephants in Africa because high-profile traders are the ones who are financing poaching activities. More....