Army Lieutenant and 4 others arrested with elephant meat

First time an army officer is arrested and transferred to Brazzaville court for trafficking elephant meat – faces up to 5 years in prison.

After 2 days in custody, a Lieutenant, another military man and a Customs official, along with two civilians, have been transferred to Brazzaville Court. The five suspects were arrested for trafficking elephant meat from north Congo to the nation’s capital, Brazzaville. A pistol was seized, along with the elephant meat (an integrally protected species) and other partially protected species.

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo – on the 18th of November, a joint operation between the Forestry and Sustainable Development Ministry, the Gendarmerie and the Presidential Guard, with the support of PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna), brought about the arrest of 5 traffickers, caught red-handed trafficking elephant meat to Brazzaville. The elephant meat, an integrally protected species, was seized along with other wildlife that were partially protected, as was a pistol and the vehicle the suspects used to traffic the contraband.

"The Lieutenant, reputed in northern Congo for his involvement in the illegal ivory trade, is a major catch. While the Congolese law is strict for corrupt authorities, they often evade conviction. We have to stop the impunity if we are to stop this trend in Central Africa which is threatening forest elephants with extinction." said Naftali Honig, PALF Coordinator.

This is the first time an officer in the Congolese armed forces is transferred to Court. He, along with two other corrupt accomplices, spent 2 days in custody where they were interrogated about the nature of their infractions. "Their sense of being above the law was palpable, " said Honig. "They loosely threw around the names of Colonels and Generals they claimed to be affiliated with, in an effort to scare the officers charged with interrogating them. I hope this feeling of impunity has crashed now that they’re in the Brazzaville Prison."

News of the arrest spread quickly in Congo, and talk of the subject could be heard in northern Congo, as some were shocked to learn that a vehicle could be intercepted.

Projet d’appui à l’Application de la Loi sur la Faune sauvage (PALF):

Since 2008, PALF has worked in the Republic of Congo, fighting wildlife crime by fighting corruption. The project is a collaboration between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), The Aspinall Foundation (TAF) and the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Forest Economy (MEFDD).