Late last year, a WWF-supported project in Central African Replublic (CAR) made headlines following a successful operation leading to the arrest of key wildlife smugglers and the seizure of leopard and lion skins as well as elephant tusks. The operation was conducted by local authorities along with WWF partner organization RALF (a French acronym for advocating the strengthening of wildlife law enforcement). Another significant victory emerged this week when the traffickers’ conviction hit the national news. Reading about the arrest and sentencing of species traffickers is key to creating a deterrent for the many traffickers who have assumed legal impunity would go on forever.
The firm commitment of the CAR Wildlife and Justice Ministries to upholding wildlife laws resulted in a sentence being handed down by the Bangui High Court on the 24th of February. The traffickers were sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of over €30,000. WWF will continue to support its government partners in ensuring law enforcement application and judiciary follow-up of wildlife related crimes. It is also working to promote widespread awareness of the consequences faced at every level of involvement in illegal wildlife trafficking, the greatest threat to the survival of many protected species, such as elephants and great apes.