A Chinese national was caught attempting to smuggle 22 pounds (10 kilos) of ivory out of the Republic of Congo on Saturday, according to the AFP. Officials confiscated five elephant tusks, 80 ivory chopsticks, 3 ivory carvings, and a number of smaller ivory-made items.
The suspect was taken into custody at the Maya-Maya airport in the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville.
“We vowed to help the government of Congo send a zero tolerance message to ivory traffickers, and as you can see this message is in action,” Naftali Honig, head of the Project to Apply the Law on Fauna (PALF), told the AFP. A Brazzaville-based NGO, PALF is working to build the capacity of Congolese authorities to enforce wildlife laws, which have long gone ignored in the central African nation.
Ivory pieces confiscated by Republic of Congo authorities in Saturday’s bust. Photo by: Naftali Honig (PALF).
PALF has been involved in a number of seizures, including catching illegal wildlife traders dealing in leopard skins, ivory, and living chimpanzees and gorillas for the illegal pet trade. The chimpanzee dealer became the first individual sentenced for wildlife trafficking in the Republic of Congo. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
“We work with investigators and local authorities to catch criminals in the act and then follow the legal proceedings to ensure that they don’t use a phone call, a bribe, or anything of that nature to illegitimately get themselves off the hook,” Honig explained to mongabay.com in an interview last February.
In its first year, PALF conducted 17 investigations resulting in the arrests of 19 alleged traffickers. The program was developed by the Aspinall Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Stopping wildlife trafficking in Congo
(02/01/2010) The bushmeat trade in the Congo basin has been widely publicized but poorly addressed. While fines and sentences exist for wildlife trafficking, they have traditionally been poorly enforced due to corruption, poor governance, and attentions focused on other priorities. Major traffickers, who tend to be rich and well-connected, trade with impunity, knowing that a well-placed bribe or a phone call can get them off with little more than a slap on a wrist. But the days of privilege may be drawing to a close in Republic of Congo thanks to the efforts of PALF [Projet d’Appui à l’Application de la Loi sur la Faune], a Brazzaville-based NGO which is working to build the capacity of Congolese authorities to enforce wildlife laws. In the process, PALF is helping root out corruption and raise awareness of the plight of the country’s increasingly threatened wildlife, including forest elephants, big cats, chimps, and gorillas.
Financial crisis pummels wildlife and people in the Congo rainforest
(09/27/2010) Spreading over three central African nations—Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Republic of Congo—the Sangha tri-national landscape is home to a variety of actors: over 150,000 Bantu people and nearly 20,000 pygmies; endangered species including forest elephants and gorillas; and, not least, the Congo rainforest ecosystem itself, which here remains largely intact. Given its interplay of species-richness, primary rainforest, and people—many of whom are among the poorest in the world—the landscape became internationally important in 2002 when under the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) conservation groups and development agencies agreed to work together to preserve the ecosystems while providing development in the region.
Republic of Congo to turn over 25 M acres of land to South African farmers
(04/20/2009) The government of Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) has offered 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of land to South African farmers in an effort to improve the central African nation’s food security, reports Reuters. The area is nearly twice the amount of arable land in South Africa.