Wildlife smuggler, Ousame Diallo, who has admitted to illegally trafficking 500 endangered chimpanzees out of the Republic of Guinea, was sentenced to a year in prison in the West African country reports WWF. The arrest and charge was supported by INTERPOL and to anti-wildlife trafficking local group, GALF.
“This time the result is excellent, we arrested one of biggest ape traffickers and we obtained one year in prison against him, the most severe penalty under Guinean law for this type of offense. It is a historic decision,” Charlotte Houpline, GALF Founder and Coordinator, said. Two of Diallo’s partners were also arrested and sentenced to a year in jail.
While a year in jail may not seem like much for trafficking hundreds of chimps, wildlife crime is largely treated as a minor offense in Africa, as it is in much of the world. Even when caught, traffickers rarely are convicted and even more rarely see jail time. However, as wildlife trafficking has turned into a global crisis, many governments are struggling to take a harder line against a practice that is decimating their wild lands. Experts also note that the global wildlife trade, estimated at $19 billion, is often connected to other organized criminal activities, such as the drug trade, human trafficking, weapons sales, and even terrorism.
Western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), which is the subspecies found in Guinea, are currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The great apes are imperiled deforestation, the bushmeat trade, and illegal trafficking for the pet trade as well as for some zoos and wildlife parks. Around 8,000 chimps are believed to survive in Guinea.
“Poachers target young chimpanzees for the illegal pet trade, but their families will often fight to the death to protect them,” notes David Greer who manages WWF’s African Great Ape Programme. “For every baby that is exported alive another 10 chimps may have died. Infants often perish from the trauma of capture leading poachers to pursue yet another victim, and repeating time and again the tragic killing scenario.”
Captive chimp. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
(07/24/2013) In a single night in March, a band of heavily-armed, horse-riding poachers slaughtered 89 elephants in southern Chad, thirty of which were pregnant females. The carnage was the worst poaching incident of the year, but even this slaughter paled in comparison to the 650 elephants killed in a Cameroon park in 2012. Elephant poaching is hitting new records as experts say some 30,000 elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. But the illegal wildlife trade—estimated at $19 billion—is not just decimating elephants, but also rhinos, big cats, great apes, and thousands of lesser-known species like pangolins and slow lorises. This growing carnage recently led to representatives of over 40 zoos and dozens of wildlife programs to call on governments around the world to take immediate action on long-neglected wildlife crime.
(08/20/2013) Six men have been sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of smuggling 150 pangolins in peninsular Malaysia, reports Annamiticus. The men were also given fines totaling over $100,000.
(08/13/2013) In another sign that the rhino poaching crisis has gone out-of-control, Kenyan officials announced late last night that a pregnant rhino was poached in Nairobi National Park, which sits on the edge of Kenya’s capital. Home to lions, leopard, giraffes and hippos in addition to rhinos, the park is known for its views of iconic wildlife flanked by Nairobi’s skyline.
(08/01/2013) The Congolese Supreme Court has ordered Ghislain Ngondjo (known as Pepito) to five years in prison for slaughtering dozens of elephants for their ivory tusks. The five year sentence is the maximum in the Republic of Congo for poaching. Ngondjo was considered the “kingpin” of an elephant poaching group; in addition to killing pachyderms, Ngondjo recruited new poachers and made death threats to park rangers and staff in Odzala National Park.
(07/25/2013) It all started with a video: in 2009 a Russian man uploaded a video of himself tickling his exotic pet (a pygmy slow loris) from Vietnam onto the hugely popular site YouTube. Since then the video has been viewed over half a million times. But a new study in the open source journal in PLoS ONE, finds that such YouTube videos have helped fuel a cruel, illegal trade that is putting some of the world’s least-known primates at risk of extinction. Lorises are small, shy, and nocturnal primates that inhabit the forests of tropical Asia, but the existence of all eight species is currently imperiled by a booming illegal pet trade that has been aided by videos of lorises being tickled, holding tiny umbrellas, or doing other seemingly cute (but wholly unnatural) things.