Four persons who were found to be selling parts of protected animal species and their skins have been arrested in Oyem, capital of Woleu-Ntem province in northern Gabon.
They were arrested on Saturday, April 16, by the elements of the provincial service of judicial police in Oyem.
The operation was carried out by judicial police assisted by elements of the Ministry of Water and Forests with the support of members of the environmental protection Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), Conservation Justice.
All the four persons arrested are Gabonese and had in their possession four elephant tusks, an elephant tail, three skins and five panther teeth.
This constitutes an offence contrary to Article 579 of the Gabonese penal code and Article 92 and 275 of the forestry code. It is also against Article 3 of the biodiversity and ecosystems preservation principle adopted by Law Number 0002/2014 on the sustainable development of the Republic of Gabon.
The four traffickers were arrested in the middle of a sales transaction. One of them, who was only identified as A.N.G. was the owner of the two skins and five panther teeth.
When his house was searched, 20 ammunition were found and further investigations led to the arrest of the other members of the network of illicit traffickers.
Another member of the network, identified as N.N.C. is a retiree who shot the elephant and cut off the tail and removed the tusks. A search conducted in his house in Nkout village found ammunition.
The accused took the security team to the scene where the elephant was shot and the skeleton of the animal was found there.
Another of the suspects, who is a teacher and identified as A.J.B. was the owner of two elephant tusks which he said he found in the forest. A search conducted in his house found no further evidence.
The four risk up to 10 years imprisonment, according to the Gabonese penal code.
A senior official in the country’s Ministry of Water and Forestry told HumAngle that the protection of wildlife species and the forest constitute aspects of the sustainable tourism perspective of Gabon which is a “green power” on the international scene.
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