Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

The struggle continues - wildlife law enforcement at the coal face

24 November 2015

Categories: Wildlife Trade News, EAGLE News, Homepage News

This month has seen many significant arrests that demonstrate the vital importance of the EAGLE Network of projects, which continue to succeed in bringing down the wildlife traffickers threatening African wildlife with extinction.

In Cameroon, there have been four notable arrests of ivory traffickers. One of these was arrested alongside one of his ring members while trying to sell ivory jewellery and sculptures, and had already served two prison sentences for these offences. They were both part of a key ivory trafficking network, making their arrests a great success in the fight against the illegal ivory trade. Another operation led first to the arrest of another well-known trafficker attempting to sell raw ivory, which in turn led to the investigation that captured his boss, a more prominent trafficker.

In Gabon, there has been a flurry of arrests connected to the trade in leopard skins, a trade that is a serious threat to these magnificent animals. The first set of arrests followed an operation carried out by EAGLE member AALF, the Judicial Police and officers of the Commission of Water and Forests, during which two individuals were caught with two leopard skins and illegally held ammunition. Another operation led to the arrest of two men attempting to sell leopard skins belonging to a third, who was subsequently also arrested.

In Togo this month, EAGLE also saw the successful prosecution of a Vietnamese ivory trafficker and his associate, who were both arrested last year on suspicion of organising the transportation of 3.8 tonnes of illegal ivory, the biggest shipment in the history of West Africa. The accused were sentenced to 22 and 24 months imprisonment, two great outcomes that help fragment these large ivory trafficking networks.

Four separate operations in Uganda led to plenty of arrests in October. One of the arrests involved a trafficker who was trying to sell six-foot long python skins in a hotel. He was arrested with a police constable, who had checked into the hotel prior to the attempted transaction in order to supervise the sale. EAGLE Uganda ensured both men were held in prison, with the trafficker facing charges of illegally possessing wildlife products, and the policeman charged at a corruption court with abuse of public function. The case was moved from local to high court earlier this month, signaling a significant step forward in fighting corruption.

Police alongside EAGLE Uganda managed to intercept a notorious pangolin trafficker attempting to sell four of these animals which are so acutely threatened by trade. The man has been linked to the death of thousands of these animals.

 

These are some of the successes but there are also defeats in the struggle for improved wildlife law enforcement. Sadly, in Senegal October saw the release of Aziz Sall, the international trafficker of Timneh parrots, who was arrested in September 2016. A financial agreement reached with the Directorate of Water and Forests Authority allowed Sall’s charge for breaching the Code on Wildlife and Hunting to be withdrawn. Sall consequently only received a suspended prison sentence of three months for the falsification of official documents. According to the Code, such a dispensation is allowed for in criminal cases, but is believed to be inappropriate in cases of international trafficking. More discouraging news relating to the Sall case is the disappearance of the 30 endangered Timneh parrots that were seized in the operation, which were being held in an aviary managed by the same Directorate of Water and Forests Authority. An investigation is underway and the theft has been reported to the court. This case amply highlights the difficulties involved in prosecuting wildlife traffickers.

 

The EAGLE Network also continued to develop its connections with South Africa, and should this lead to another replication of the EAGLE model it would bring the number of African countries EAGLE is currently active in to nine. This coordinated approach to combatting wildlife trafficking through improved law enforcement is one kind of network Born Free hopes will only go from strength to strength!

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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