Gabon Initiatives

Fabrice Mikomba,January 22, 2018

LIBREVILLE: The fight against poaching and trafficking of protected species
remains active in Gabon. In spite of an apparent intensification of the
traffic and a law not favorable to the fight because of the weak penalties
provided by the law, the actors of the fight for the fauna remain mobilized.

The AALF project (Support to the Application of the Fauna Law), developed
by the NGO Conservation Justice and the Ministry of Water and Forests, is
proof of the pooling of efforts required and made possible by these
different partners. It is undoubtedly through this project that the
evolution of the fight against poaching and trafficking in protected
species occurs, in this case the elephant and the panther, which are
threatened by the actions of men.

With regard to court decisions, it should be noted that 69 people were
sentenced to a sentence of 143 days on average (163 days if we do not
consider the 15 cases on appeal), 21 people are awaiting trial, 8 were
released and 2 were released due to a transaction by Waters and Forests.

This brings us to remember that court decisions are generally favorable.
The maximum penalty provided by law is six months in prison. The judges
have regularly said the law in all its rigor facing the evidence of
flagrante delicto.

There are obviously some disparities depending on the province.

Ngounie and Estuaire gave the lowest sentences. Of 13 people arrested in
the Estuary, 10 were tried and sentenced with an average of 99 days in

In Ngounie, 17 people have been arrested and 13 have been sentenced to an
average prison term of only 78 days.

In the Ogooue-Ivindo, 26 people were arrested and only 7 sentenced to 107
days on average, 2 people are relaxed while 17 cases are awaiting trial.

In Haut-Ogooue, 19 people were sentenced and 3 people were released from 22
arrested, the average sentence being 180 days.

Of 8 people arrested in the Middle Ogoou?, 7 were sentenced to 180 days.

In Ogoou?-Lolo as in Ogoou?-Maritime, only one person was arrested and
sentenced to 180 days in prison.

12 people were arrested in the Woleu-Ntem and 11 were sentenced to 185
days, the last one being awaiting trial.

In comparison, the maximum prison sentences for wildlife trafficking are 5
years in Congo, 3 years in Cameroon, and up to 10 years in Benin. Gabon is
therefore a “paradise” for traffickers and poachers who do not risk much by
killing and mutilating an elephant or a panther.

In terms of quantities, a total of 371 kg of ivory and 31 skins of panther
were seized by the authorities with the support of the AALF project.

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.