Tusk Smuggler Gets Tough Sentence

August 18, 2011

The Republic of Congo sends a Chinese ivory smuggler to jail, an example of the tough law enforcement that WCS recommends for combating the illegal wildlife trade.

An ivory trafficker from China is learning a hard lesson in a Congolese prison cell, where he will spend the next four years.

His crime was attempting to smuggle ivory to Beijing. The contraband included five elephant tusks and various ivory items, such as chopsticks, carvings, and hankos, which are traditional name seals. When he attempted to board a Kenya Airways flight in January, the authorities stopped him.  

The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy, and the Environment carried out the arrest, with help from the Gendarmerie and technical assistance from PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna). PALF pushes for the arrest and prosecution of wildlife criminals in the region.

The Republic of Congo has sent a clear message that violating laws that protect wildlife will not be tolerated,” said Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of WCS’s Species Programs. “We urge other Central African nations to fight poachers with strong enforcement actions such as those taken by the Republic of Congo.”

Recently in the journal Oryx (see Wanted: Tougher Enforcement Against Wildlife Crime), Bennett addressed how organized crime has become more sophisticated in smuggling wildlife and wildlife products and better adept at eluding authorities. Her solution is to respond to the problem with tougher enforcement.

WCS commends Congolese officials for doing just that. Their August 10th sentencing of the smuggler marks a growing commitment to crack down on poaching activities that are decimating local wildlife.

For more information, see the press release.

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