Gabon Review

Desire-Clitandre Dzonteu, 
February 16, 2018

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Has the disappearance of elephant tusks and pieces of ivory in the Gabonese
Water Courts and Provincial Commissions become a new supply chain for
traffickers of precious matter? The business flourishes, the writers grow
fat and the authorities say nothing.

The disappearance of elephant tusks and ivory coins seized and placed under
seal in the provincial courts or Provincial Water and Forests Divisions in
the provinces has grown in recent months, without the authorities being

According to the NGO Conservation Justice, these packages affect the entire
territory. On the night of 27 to 28 January 2018, the Makokou Court of
First Instance was robbed. The perpetrators took away at least 95 pieces of
ivory seized during numerous arrests and common procedures initiated by the
administration of Water and Forests, the police, the National Agency of
National Parks (ANPN) and the NGO Conservation Justice.

“According to the first testimonies, the thieves broke in by forcing the
protective grid of the central door of the court before removing the lock
of the sealed room”, reveals the source.

In October 2014, a similar flight took place. More than 100 kg of ivory had
been carried along with rifles. The case had been orchestrated from the
inside. The Dean of Judges and the Chief Clerk had been named as the
sponsors of the robbery by a certain Faroukou, arrested in 2017 and
currently in detention.

The Mouila Court of First Instance in Ngouni Province also paid the price
for these “special thieves”. Indeed, on the night of 4 to 5 January 2017,
42 kg of ivory seized by the agents of the Waka National Park, Sindara,
disappeared. Moreover, in the previous November, the same court had been
the victim of another robbery and about 30 kg of ivory had been stolen.

At Oyem, in Woleu-Ntem, these facts are recurrent. In April 2015, more than
300 kg of ivory, the equivalent of 50 slaughtered elephants, had
disappeared. According to the prosecutor at the time: “the sealed room of
the court was forced to allow theft”. The guardian of the court has since
disappeared, while this cargo was to be transferred to Libreville.

Since these acts occurred, at the height of the government’s fight against
poaching and ivory trafficking, none of the perpetrators have ever been

“How can this be?” asks the members of Conservation Justice. Be that as it
may, the enemy seems to be trapped in a ‘ corner of the house and certainly
enjoys unprecedented protection and impunity ‘. If not, how is it possible
that so much ivory disappears from these administrations without anyone
lifting a finger? Because it’s less dangerous than poaching elephants,
traffickers have changed their strategy and are now hitting where they were
least expected.

According to some sources, this vein is more buoyant and sprinkles many
people beyond the circle of traffickers. Hence the omerta observed so far.

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.