A Court of Appeal in Ouesso, Sangha division in the North of Congo Brazzaville has confirmed prison sentences passed on six individuals who were convicted for illicit trade in elephant tusks, pangolin scales and a panther skin.
The six culprits were arrested on Feb. 27, 2019 in possession of 10 pieces of elephant tusks for some, a bag of pangolin scales for others, and one individual was arrested in Impfondo within Likouala division, in possession of panther skin.
The three persons convicted for being in possession of elephant tusks are Merlin Onguele Thibault, Mobula Genese, and Antounga Mani Pie, Djamal Adam was jailed for illegal possession of panther skin.
The four were jailed for 18 months each and fined 500,000 FCFA (about US$1,000) each as well as 500,000 FCFA costs.
Those convicted for being in possession of pangolin scales are Engoko Matoubou Don and Bolia Mbemba Bovic, each of whom was fined 500,000 FCFA and 100,000 FCFA costs.
The Ouesso Appeal Court was merely confirming the sentences passed on the convicts by the Impfondo High Court on July 27, 2019.
They were members of an international network of traffickers in wildlife products and two of them are nationals of the Central African Republic, three from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one from the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).
Each one of them had a particular role to play in the illicit trade as the group was made up of canvassers, sellers and transporters.
They were arrested by agents of the divisional directorate of Forestry Economy and gendarmes with the assistance of the Project for Assistance in the Application of the Law on Wild Animals.
The seized products were from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Likouala in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).
It should be recalled that the elephant, panther, and giant pangolin are animal species that are completely protected by the laws of Congo Brazzaville.
Article 27 of Congolese law on the protection of animal species stipulates that “the importation, exportation, detention and transit within the national territory of completely protected species as well as their tusks are strictly banned except on special administrative derogation by the Ministry of Water and Forest for scientific research needs.”