NEW YORK (August 18, 2011) – The Wildlife Conservation Society today applauded the Republic of Congo for its sentencing of an ivory smuggler to four years in prison.
The sentence, handed down on August 10th, marks a growing commitment by Congolese officials to crack down on poaching that is decimating local wildlife.
The trafficker was caught in January attempting to smuggle five elephant tusks, 80 ivory chopsticks, hankos (traditional name seals), three ivory carvings, and many other small ivory items. The 35-year-old Chinese national was apprehended as he attempted to board a Kenya Airways flight eventually headed for Beijing.
The arrest was carried out by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy, and the Environment with support from the Gendarmerie and technical assistance from PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna), a wildlife law enforcement project pushing for arrests and prosecutions of wildlife criminals in Congo.
A recent WCS paper in the journal Oryx said that organized crime is wiping out wildlife and that strong enforcement is needed immediately to catch up with globally linked, criminalized syndicates.
“The Republic of Congo has sent a clear message that violating laws that protect wildlife will not be tolerated,” said Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of WCS’s Species Programs. “We urge other Central African nations to fight poachers with strong enforcement actions such as those taken by the Republic of Congo.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society works throughout the Republic of Congo on conservation issues. In 2008, WCS researchers discovered more than 125,000 gorillas in a remote region in the northern part of the country.
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The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.