Elephants have become an endangered species, mainly due to poaching. With only roughly 40,000-50,000 left in the wild, the species is classified as endangered.
Elephant poaching could be deteriorating in the Republic of Congo, as the man who was reportedly responsible for poaching about 500 elephants was sentenced to jail.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s press release, since 2008, Mobanza Mobembo Gerard, aka “Guyvanho,” had commanded roughly 25 teams of poachers in elephant poaching expeditions in the Republic of Congo.
Following a three-year investigation, the country’s Criminal Court sentenced him to 30 years on charges including trafficking ivory, possession of military weapons, and attempted murder of park rangers.
The court ordered Guyvanho to pay 38 million Central African Francs (about USD 68,000) to the injured rangers.
It is not the first time this ringleader has been caught. In 2018 according to the WCS, he was arrested and jailed in Ouesso, the Republic of Congo. A few weeks later and before his scheduled trial, he escaped.
He was caught a year later, which resulted in a shootout between him and the park rangers. In 2019 the Ouesso police found and arrested Guyvanho and three of his poachers. All four will be placed in Brazzaville Prison in the country’s capital, where Guyvanho will serve a three-decade sentence.
Previously those accused of committing crimes were taken to civil court where maximum jail sentences were about five years. Yet, according to the WCS, Guyvanho’s long list of crimes made his case eligible for Criminal Court. Thus, making him the first wildlife poacher convicted in the Republic of Congo’s Criminal Court.
It is a major milestone in the protection of wildlife in the Republic of Congo. It sends a powerful message that wildlife crime will not be tolerated.
Let’s hope that this sentencing will serve to deter would-be criminals that they too could serve harsh sentencing if they break the laws and place park rangers and Congo’s national security in danger.
Over the past century, elephant populations have vastly dropped in Africa and Asia. Although Africa was home to 1.3 million elephants in 1979, today, there are only about 415,000 elephants in the whole continent, according to Space For Giants data.
The WWF says that poaching and illegal ivory trade are the leading causes of the decline, as an estimated 110,000 African elephants were slain illegally in the past ten years.
Why do people poach?
Poaching is hard to control, and law enforcement is susceptive to bribery, making poaching an easy crime.
There are many reasons for poaching. Money, food, religion, and even lack of enforcement are among the many reasons people poach.
As animals are a natural beauty source and are vital natural resources, with continued poaching, it would make it difficult to breed these animals should their species reduce due to poaching.