Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Arrested at last

10 September 2015

Categories: Wildlife Trade News, EAGLE News, Homepage News

It’s not often that a major wildlife trafficker is arrested, and even less often when it’s a senior government wildlife official. For years, Mr Ansoumane Doumbouya, had allegedly been at the heart of illegal exports of wildlife from the Republic of Guinea, but on the 21st of August 2015, he finally came undone.

Like all countries that have become signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a licensing system lies at the heart of Guinea’s regulation of CITES-listed species as wildlife specimens are imported into or exported from the country. These transactions are authorized by a central government agency and in Guinea, this was headed up by…you guessed it: Doumbouya.

Over many years, Doumbouya is thought to have fostered links with international traffickers, using his unique position at the heart of Guinea’s wildlife licensing system to illegally deal in wildlife, sending hundreds of great apes and other protected species to a largely unknown but presumably cruel fate outside of their homeland. Not dissuaded by being removed from his position, he continued his criminal undertakings. Occupying a different role within the same Ministry and using amassed CITES permits, Doumbouya continued to supply wildlife traffickers with the paperwork necessary to export wildlife from Guinea.

However, knowing all this and proving it are two very different things and Doumbouya had grown both experienced and cautious. It’s been a long hard road for Born Free’s partners in Guinea, GALF (Guinée-Application de la Loi Faunique), a project established to strengthen wildlife law enforcement and a member of the highly esteemed EAGLE Network, to ensure Doumbouya was brought to justice. Through its close collaboration with Doumbouya’s direct employer, Guinea’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and other government agencies, GALF’s investigation spanned more than a year and culminated in Doumbouya’s arrest over the delivery of a signed CITES permit for two primates to a renowned trafficker, Thierno Barry, linked to the regular exporting of protected species to many other countries.

As explained in EAGLE’s press release, following the arrest, “Only three days after the arrest, a brief case was finally opened in front of the prosecutor. The former director held his head as several empty government export permits were pulled out of his bag. It seems the top public official was a mobile one-stop-shop for all the traffickers’ needs. From manatees to parrots and monkeys, illegal trade was carried out of the briefcase.

The true scale of Doumbouya’s operation can only be guessed. The good news is that he now faces the criminal justice system and a long list of charges involving various counts of abuse and unlawful extension of authority, forgery, criminal complicity and corruption, punishable with up to 10 years in prison. EAGLE have been keeping a close eye on the case, working to keep the well-connected Doumbouya behind bars until his court appearance, and will be in touch as events unfold.  

The arrest sends a strong message to international syndicates capitalizing on corrupt officials occupying key roles. As Ofir Drori, founding director of the EAGLE Network responded: “The issue of corruption and complicity in international conventions is pertinent and has to be tackled more seriously. There are many more such criminals in suit and tie, not just in Africa, and we have our plans against a few”. Born free wishes EAGLE well in their plans!

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Read the full August update from EAGLE


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