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Man Kills Eco-Guard In Gabon Over House Search For Dead Elephants

An eco-guard has been killed in Gabon shortly after a troop of eco-guards escaped death from an armed shooter.

An eco-guard working at the Mwagna National Park in Gabon was shot and killed in Mekambo by a counsellor whose house was encircled and being searched by eco-guards.

“This is a tragic case of a human-animal conflict being turned into a human-human conflict,” said Marcel Izembi, President of the Committee of the Wise of Zadie division.

The incident happened on  Saturday, May 29, 2021.

According to Marcel Izembi, some eco-guards were sent to search the house of Jean-Francois Yobandjia following allegations that some elephants had been killed and the Counsellor was suspected of having participated in the killing.

After a long argument between the eco-guards and the family of Jean-Francois, the eco-guards were allowed into the house to conduct the search.

“When Jean-Francois, who was in the forest when the eco-guards came to his house arrived and saw his house encircled, he seemed to have panicked and opened fire on the eco-guards without trying to find out what was going on,” one eyewitness told HumAngle.

However, some accounts revealed that Jean-Francois became furious when he was informed that his wife and children had been beaten by the eco-guards when they refused to allow the search team to enter his house.

Using his Calibre 12 rifle, Jean-Francois Yobandjia opened fire, killing one of the eco-guards whose name was not immediately made known but said to be an origin of Woleu-Ntem province.

Two days earlier, on Thursday, May 27, 2021, after a meeting between some members of government including the Minister of State in charge of Relations with the Institutions, Denise Mekam’ne, the Minister of Defense Michael Moussa Adamo and notables of the locality, a retired policeman, Francois Mpoumboue resident in Paris Bouyong Quarter had opened fire on a truck carrying eco-guards.

The retired policeman was angered when informed that a combined force of gendarmes, police and eco-guards had arrested his granddaughter in connection with the theft of a computer. 

The granddaughter was being transported to the gendarmerie in the truck when Francois Mpoumboue opened fire, also with a calibre 12 rifle.

However, nobody was wounded in the shooting and Francois Mpounboue surrendered himself to the police the following day.

Jean-Francois Yobandjia who killed the eco-guard was reported to have escaped into the forest and a team of security forces has been dispatched to apprehend him.

The Zadie division is awash with arms and poachers who roam the porous frontier between Gabon and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and cornered criminals in one country easily cross over to the other to avoid arrest. It is feared that Jean-Francois Yobandjia may do just that.

Following the death in Mekambo, political and state authorities have questioned why eco-guards had to be sent to search a house in a town where there are police and gendarmerie offices.

Thierry d’Argendieu Kombila, President of the Gabonese National Union of Blacksmiths, in a declaration on Sunday, May 30, 2021, called on the government to define the competencies of eco-guards.

He also called on Jean-Francois to come out of the forest and surrender himself to the competent authorities in order to avoid any further shedding of blood.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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