Congo arrests Chinese ivory poacher

by Jan 23, 2011Ivory

BRAZZAVILLE (AFP) – Officials in Congo were on Sunday holding a Chinese national as he tried to smuggle 10 kilos (22 pounds) of ivory — including five large elephant tusks — out of Congo, a wildlife group said.

The 35-year old was arrested Saturday at Maya-Maya airport, in the capital Brazzaville, said Naftali Honig, coordinator of the Project to Apply the Law on Fauna (PALF).

Officials found five large elephant tusks, 80 ivory chopsticks, several hankos, or Chinese name seals, three 3 ivory carvings and many small ivory items, he added.

He was taking a flight bound for Beijing.

The Congolese paramilitary gendarmerie are holding the suspect, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the attempt to smuggle the wildlife artefacts.

“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,” said Honig.

Earlier this month five African poachers trafficking endangered species were arrested and put behind bars in Gabon.

On that occasion, officials seized 13 heads and 32 hands of apes, 12 panther hides, a lion hide, five elephant tails and numerous hides of other less endangered species, according to another wildlife group there.

It was the biggest ever seizure conducted in Africa concerning apes, according to Gabon’s AALF, known by its French acronym for Support for the Application of the Wildlife Act.