Bringing justice to ivory traders in Gabon

Ivory recently seized in Gabon, (c) Conservation Justice

Conservation Justice, a partner of the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) achieved some noteworthy law enforcement successes this month with the arrest of an ivory poacher and seizure of 17kg of ivory in northern Gabon as well as the arrest of one of the country’s most notorious ivory dealers, in an operation that led to the seizure of 40kg of ivory and a mobile phone listing a number of Chinese contacts.

Although law enforcement remains critical to fighting the illegal wildlife trade, any lasting solution to the trade in blood ivory also requires strengthening the ban on international trade in ivory and addressing the spiralling demand for ivory in consumer countries.

In June this year with the assistance of Conservation Justice, the government of Gabon took the brave step of burning its ivory stockpile, in the belief that this was the only means of ensuring its ivory did not end up on the black market, and in so doing sending a message to those who would profit from a trade in ivory. As the President of Gabon said at the time: “It is important that what we are doing here is being done in other countries. So as we go along, we will have common action in the future.” 

Unfortunately this call fell on deaf ears in Tanzania and in March 2013 the government will once again be attempting to gain approval to sell its ivory stockpile to China and Japan at the next CITES Conference of Parties in Bangkok.

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