Gabon: 13 ape heads, 32 ape hands, 12 leopard skins, 1 lion skin, 5 elephant tails – and 5 dealers behind bars!

by Jan 14, 2011Elephants

After the ivory crackdown, the action in Gabon continues –

On Wednesday we carried with the Gabonese authorities what is probably the biggest apes related arrest we know of in Africa – 13 ape heads, 32 ape hands, five ape dealers behind bars.


After Conservation Justice and the AALF project planned a second wave of arrests, the team comprised of the forces of law and order and “Ministère des Eaux et Forêts” (MINEF) arrested the five wildlife dealers on the 13th in Libreville. They have confiscated 13 great apes heads (one for gorilla and 12 from Chimpanzees), 32 great apes hands (2 from Gorilla 30 from chimpanzees), as well as 12 leopard skins, a part of a lion skin, and 5 elephant tails.

Imagine what the killed apes leopards, lions and elephants of this seizure represent, and now imagine that the dealers confessed they have been carrying their specialized trade for several years.

Putting these dealers behind bars probably has a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of chimps and gorillas. I hope this landmark arrest operation and the photos attached will serve all of us in proving the importance of law enforcement projects (AALF, PALF, RALF and LAGA) for the survival of great apes. The problem is not specific to Gabon and such specialized dealers exist throughout West and Central Africa, though Gabon shows it is possible to stop them. Help us establish law enforcement in other countries as DRC and Nigeria .

As for the previous ivory crackdown, despite many corruption attempts, the ivory dealers are still in jail, proving the judicial authorities regard the new wildlife cases with high importance. We hope they will do the same for this new important case. The dealers are in cell right now and will be transferred to the public prosecutor at the tribunal on Monday 17th. We will do our best and hope the ape dealers will be kept in prison.

It seems very important to send congratulations to authorities for this success. Indeed, after the ivory crackdown and the great letters you sent for it, it is necessary the authorities will feel now the same importance with the great apes cases. Please help us encourage the Gabonese Government in this wildlife law enforcement revolution, spend 10 minutes in writing a brief congratulation letter to:

Ministre des Eaux et Forêts : Fax : 00241 77 86 45 ; E-mail du secrétariat :

Directeur Général des Eaux et Forêts, Monsieur Kouma Zaou (mail: ; Tél : 00241 07 94 30 27 et 00241 06 71 09 70).


Luc Mathot
Conservation Justice