Wildlife law enforcement, Africa

Siezed ivory...Latest News...

This week an incredible four ivory operations that were supported by PALF have resulted in the arrests of eight traffickers.  CLICK HERE to read more about this successful haul of illegal trafficking criminals.

The illegal trade in gorillas and bushmeat has decimated wildlife populations in countries such as Congo, and a lack of enforcement of national wildlife laws has provided no real deterrent to these illegal practices. In a bid to tackle this problem, a wildlife law enforcement project named ‘PALF' (Projet d'Appui à l'Application de la Loi sur la Faune Sauvage) was initiated in 2008.

This collaborative project has been designed to enforce wildlife laws, provide deterrents to killing wildlife, and monitor illegal wildlife trade along with other detrimental activities. By increasing awareness and prosecuting offenders, the PALF project aims to reduce the overall level of illegal hunting and trade in the Republic of Congo and to date it has celebrated a number of significant successes including several seizures of live animals, animal pelts, ivory, and other animal products.

Attempted Ivory Smuggling

On Saturday 22nd January 2011, a 35-year-old Chinese national attempted to smuggle 5 whole elephant tusks, 3 ivory statues, 80 ivory chopsticks and a variety of other ivory items (bracelets, necklaces, hairclips) out of Congo via Maya Maya International Airport.

He was arrested by officers of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and the Environment (MDDEFE) with the support of the Gendarmerie and PALF. He was held at the Gendarmerie and is currently being transferred to the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Brazzaville.  Asia is still a major source of demand for ivory. The suspect attempted to hide the ivory with new methods unknown to regional experts and is continuing to hide information from authorities in investigations. This is typical of criminals who do not fear the law, thinking that high-level contacts will pull them out of a tight spot.

We have seen attempted traffic of influence occurring right in front of our faces. So we send out a very big thank you to those of you who have already made calls of congratulations to relevant officials to try and promote what is morally right. All too often, corruption and traffic of influence dominate, but together we can work in a new
direction.

Most urgently, I would like to ask people to contact the Ministère de la Justice et des Droits Humains to support this case because the hardest test demonstrating Congo's commitment to applying wildlife law presents itself in the court system, where a zero tolerance message needs to be sent to wildlife criminals to actually dissuade them from these activities in the future.

I would like to extend the invitation to congratulate the Ministère du Développement Durable, de l'Economie Forestière et de l'Environnement and the Ministère de la Défense. Both of these ministries are to thank for the smooth manner in which the operation was carried out.

Naftali Honig

PALF Coordinator
Republic of Congo