Friday, May 20, 2011
Ivory, turtle and falcon smugglers arrested in West Central Africa
In Gabon, undercover agents posing as smugglers picked up 16 dealers in possession of 150kg of illegal polished ivory. The haul, estimated to be worth about £90,000 on the international market and probably destined for China, the world's leading market for "white gold", was going via Nigeria, one of the main smuggling routes.
All 16 were remanded in custody, having been refused bail following the operation, which focused on a hotel, a local market and a sculptor's studio following a long investigation…..
In Cameroon, three dealers trading 17 turtle shells were arrested. A cargo of 1,000 African grey parrots worth an estimated £65,000 was intercepted being smuggled into Nigeria and a policeman was arrested on suspicion of accepting a £2,000 bribe to release it and allow it on its way.
The operation in the Central African Republic recovered seven leopard skins, two lion skins and two tusks concealed beneath a pile of cowhides in a dealer's truck. He was arrested. The skins were thought to be destined for Europe or the US to decorate wealthy homes. On the same day, wildlife activists in Ouesso in the north of Congo-Brazzaville found a further 30kg of ivory.
As Ofir Drori, the founder of Laga, pointed out, the poachers do not work alone: "Wildlife extinction doesn't start with poachers, it starts with wealthy white-collar criminals who have been operating in central Africa for over 20 years."
Source: The Guardian