DRC ivory market towards an effective and complete closure
Inspectors from the Kinshasa-Gombe public Prosecutor's office carried out a series of raids at the Bikeko Market in Kinshasa – a place known for illegal ivory trade - during the months of March, April and May to seize ivory products sold on the shelves of this market. About thirty kilos of ivory were seized while some sellers made their escape.
These raids, supported by WWF and TRAFFIC, were planned to enforce the relevant provisions of the law prohibiting specifically poaching, detention and marketing of fully protected species as well as their products and by-products.
Although sale of ivory is illegal in the country, some markets, the most famous of which being that of Bikeko in the city center publicly display ivory objects for sale.
The ICCN’s (Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature) Director General Cosma Wilungula said: "These seizures demonstrate the strong will of the public authority to enforce the law for the effective protection of elephant populations in the country."
This is not the first time authorities have clamped down on illegal ivory trade in the DRC. National records show that significant quantities of ivory have been seized and traffickers and brokers arrested in the last three years. 590.8 kg of ivory were seized between 2015 and 2016 and about 25 people arrested for ivory trafficking during the same period.
WWF’s Country Director in DRC, Jean-Claude Muhindo, said: "We congratulate the legal authorities and the National Police for this new wave of arrests and hope that such actions will continue. They will certainly contribute to the definitive closure of the ivory market not only in the city-province of Kinshasa but also throughout the country. "
Efforts were made as well for the strengthening of the legal framework on wildlife crime following the enactment of a new law in 2014. The development and implementation of a National Action Plan for Ivory (PANI) since 2015 aims to strengthen the fight against elephants poaching and illegal trafficking of ivory and other elephant body parts in collaboration with key stakeholders.
As a result of these recent raids, a first court file was opened at the Kinshasa Matete Public Prosecutor's Office and a second file at the Kinshasa-Gombe Prosecutor's Office. The legal process is ongoing.
Nancy SHABANI, President of JURISTRALE, a local NGO advocating for the environmental cause, said: «Further efforts are needed by Congolese authorities to stop all types of wildlife crime, in particular by strengthening control over some sites and ensuring that the law on nature conservation in the DRC should be applied to its full extent ".
WWF, TRAFFIC and their local partners congratulate the Legal and Police Authorities on these results and hope that concerted actions will continue until the complete closure of the ivory market in Kinshasa and all the provinces of the DRC.
For further information, please contact:
- Dandy Yela –Communications Manager WWF DRC : +243 999964899, firstname.lastname@example.org