The Congo Republic jailed a notorious poacher for 30 years for ivory trafficking and the attempted murder of park rangers, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said. They called the case a milestone in the fight to hold wildlife criminals to account.
“This week, a criminal court sentenced a notorious poacher and ivory trafficker, Mobanza Mobembo Gérard, to 30 years in prison for the attempted murder of park rangers, trafficking of ivory from poached elephants and other charges,” WCS regional director Emma Stokes said in a statement.
Investigations revealed that Gérard led a group of approximately 25 poachers that could have killed around 500 elephants in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park since 2008, she continued.
His trial and sentencing last week marked the first criminal conviction of a wildlife trafficker in the country. Previously, environmental crimes were tried in civil courts and poachers could only get a maximum sentence of five years.
The sentence “sends an extremely strong message that wildlife crime will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted at the highest levels,” Stokes said.
The attempted murder charges against Guyvanho were connected to a 2019 incident when his poacher group allegedly fired at members of a ranger patrol in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, WCS said.
The park covers 4,000 square kilometers (1,540 sq miles) of the northern Congo Republic. Its dense lowland rainforest has been a refuge for the region’s rare forest elephants.