Kidnapped chimps, jailed rhino horn traffickers, and seized donkey components

  • Armed intruders who kidnapped three younger chimpanzees from a sanctuary within the DRC have threatened to kill them except a ransom is paid for the apes’ return.
  • Requires renewed give attention to organised crime in wildlife trafficking, as specialised courts in Uganda and the DRC are delivering convictions for wildlife crimes that previously would possible have gone unpunished.
  • A seizure in Nigeria has sounded the most recent alarm over rising exports of donkey components for conventional Chinese language medication.
  • Trafficked is Mongabay’s bi-weekly bulletin rounding up temporary tales from the unlawful wildlife commerce in Africa.

LUBUMBASHI, Democratic Republic of Congo — Three chimpanzees have been kidnapped and are being held for ransom after intruders broke right into a primate sanctuary within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Franck Chantereau, founding father of the J.A.C.K. Primate Rehabilitation Centre, says the abductors bought into the 7-hectare (17-acre) facility within the southern metropolis of Lubumbashi at round 3 a.m. on Sept. 9 and took the chimps away.

Since then, the abductors have despatched the middle repeated messages demanding a ransom. Chantereau says they’ve threatened to kill the apes, aged between 2 and 5 years outdated, and ship their heads again to the sanctuary if their calls for aren’t met. J.A.C.Okay. is working with regulation enforcement businesses and different companions to search out the abductors and rescue the younger chimpanzees; regulation enforcement has requested that some particulars of the case be withheld.

“It is a nightmare … it was such a disaster,” Chantereau informed Mongabay by telephone from the DRC. “We have faced a lot of challenges for 18 years now. But we have never experienced anything like this: the kidnapping of apes. They also threatened to kidnap my own kids and wife.”

Three younger chimpanzees have been taken from the J.A.C.Okay. Primate Rehabilitation Centre in Lubumbashi within the early hours of Sep. 9. Picture courtesy of J.A.C.Okay Primate Rehabilitation Centre.

J.A.C.Okay. is one in every of three ape sanctuaries within the DRC and is at present dwelling to round 40 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and numerous primates, together with the endangered golden-bellied mangabey (Cercocebus chrysogaster), lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) and Wolf’s mona monkey (Cercopithecus wolfi). Because it was based in 2006, the middle’s crew has rehabilitated chimpanzees and different primates rescued from wildlife traffickers, supplied shelter, meals, and drugs for the animals, and labored to enhance public consciousness of the unlawful wildlife commerce.

Adams Cassinga, director of ConservCongo, a Congolese NGO that investigates and helps prosecute wildlife crimes, says the incident is a worrying signal that wildlife traffickers have gotten bolder within the absence of efficient regulation enforcement.

“This is very rare, this is the first time, not just in Africa but the world, that I am hearing of this. We have heard [of] people using wildlife as a shield or as a political or social agenda. This is the first time I have heard of people literally kidnapping animals so that they can ask for money,” he informed Mongabay in a telephone interview.


“These criminals have taken the entire wildlife crime to a new level. And it demands that law enforcement agents step up their games as well. There is panic and fear.”

The chimps’ kidnapping from the Lubumbashi sanctuary comes simply weeks after an obvious arson assault on the workplaces of APPACOL-PRN, an NGO that confiscates protected animal components and reside wildlife from traffickers, and incessantly cooperates with animal sanctuaries like J.A.C.Okay.


The Aug. 8 hearth in Lodja, a metropolis within the central DRC province of Sankuru, destroyed all of the group’s information, marketing campaign supplies, and tools.

“We are certain that this fire was set deliberately by people linked to animal trafficking, APPACOL-PRN director Heritier Mpo said in an email, “because in the two months prior, we received many threats after helping with the confiscation of pangolin scales, bonobos, okapi skins, parrots, and the arrest of traffickers with weapons they use to kill animals.”


Mpo says the incident will hamper the group’s work, however the group plans to rebuild and proceed.

The Aug. 8 fire in Lodja
The Aug. 8 hearth in Lodja, central DRC, destroyed all of the NGO APPACOL-PRN’s information and tools. Picture courtesy of J.A.C.Okay Primate Rehabilitation Centre.

BLANTYRE — Forward of publishing an evaluation of threats to rhinos in 2022 on Sep. 22 — World Rhino Day — Olivia Swaak-Goldman, government director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, says larger worldwide cooperation is required to determine and examine felony networks behind poaching, buying, and trafficking rhino horns.

Swaak-Goldman informed Mongabay that evaluation of rhino horn seizures over the previous 10 years recommend organised crime because the driving drive for rhino poaching and trafficking of their horns.

“The poaching of rhinos and the trafficking of their horns continues to pose a threat to their existence and increasingly at a level which is indicative of transnational organised crime. Over the past ten years rhino horn seizures increased significantly in weight, despite a reduction in poaching, largely dominated by six countries and territories.”

In August, the Worldwide Union for the Conservation of Nature and wildlife trafficking group TRAFFIC revealed a report suggesting poaching of both African and Asian rhinos has declined to its lowest point since 2018. The report mentioned 2,707 rhinos have been poached throughout Africa between 2018 and 2021, however rhino poaching charges on the continent have declined from a peak of 5.3% of the full inhabitants in 2015 to 2.3% in 2021.

Ninety p.c of recorded instances of rhino poaching occurred in South Africa, largely killings of the near-threatened white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) in Kruger Nationwide Park. General, white rhino numbers declined by virtually 10% within the three years as much as 2021, whereas populations of the critically endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis) elevated by roughly 12%.

“There is irrefutable evidence pointing to the involvement of organised crime that is driving rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking,” she mentioned.

“It is clear that countries and territories along the rhino horn supply chain can benefit from looking at this issue through a criminal justice lens and not only conservation lens,” mentioned Swaak-Goldman.

“Broader and more consistent use of advanced law enforcement practices typically applied in other types of organised crime must be employed to ensure a coordinated global response to address rhino horn trafficking.”

White rhino in Kruger Nationwide Park, South Africa. Picture by Rhett Butler.

KAMPALA — The Uganda Wildlife Authority has welcomed the most recent in a collection of profitable prosecutions by a particular court docket targeted on wildlife crimes. Al-Maamari Maged Mutahar Ali and Abubakari Mustafa, who have been arrested at Entebbe airport on Might 29 with 26 items of rhino horn weighing 15 kilograms (33 kilos), have been on Sept. 14 convicted and fined the equal of $42,000 by the Utilities, Requirements and Wildlife Courtroom in Kampala.

Bashir Hangi, communications supervisor for the UWA, says the specialised court docket, established in 2017, has helped strengthen prosecution of crimes like poaching and trafficking of wildlife. Earlier than it was arrange, Hangi says, judges too incessantly launched defendants regardless of sturdy proof of their guilt. He mentioned this was attributable to poor understanding amongst members of the judiciary of the worth of wildlife.

“There are individuals who will play games here and there,” he informed Mongabay, “but somehow you find that generally we are enjoying support lately from these agencies because they realized that wildlife is not for UWA but for Uganda and Ugandans, and it is in their interest to protect it.”

Earlier this month, on Sept. 1, the identical court docket sentenced Vincent Tumuhirwa and Robert Ariho to 10 years in jail for unlawful possession of a protected wildlife species. The 2 males had hunted and killed lions (Panthera leo) and white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus) within the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Nationwide Park.

Specialised courts for wildlife crimes have additionally lately been arrange in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. In July, a 10-day session of a cellular court docket established to listen to the big backlog of instances in opposition to wildlife trafficking, unlawful fishing, and pure useful resource exploitation in Virunga Nationwide Park tried dozens of instances, together with trafficking in elephant ivory, hippo tooth, and lion skins.

Alongside making an attempt wildlife trafficking instances, the cellular court docket held info periods about legal guidelines defending wildlife attended by round 600 members of native communities.

Lions in Uganda.
Poachers Vincent Tumuhirwa and Robert Ariho hunted and killed lions like these within the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Nationwide Park. Picture by Charles J. Sharp through Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

LAGOS — Nigeria Customs Service officers have seized round 7,000 donkey penises at Lagos’s worldwide airport. The consignment, falsely declared as bull penises, was destined for Hong Kong.

Whereas Nigerian regulation enforcement doesn’t hold statistics, customs officers have intercepted a number of giant outbound shipments of donkey skins previously two years, primarily destined for China to be used in conventional medication. In 2021, customs officers intercepted 2,820 items of donkey pores and skin.

“The scale is shocking. The scale shows there are cartels involved in this. This cartel might not necessarily be operating from Nigeria,” says Olajide Oladipo, government director of Netlink Environmental Group, a nonprofit conservation and advocacy group. “It calls for serious action. It shows that awareness is still very low.”

In 2020, a Nigeria senator proposed a ban on the killing of donkeys or commerce in its pores and skin or different components.

Whereas the Donkey Sellers Affiliation of Nigeria opposed the invoice two years in the past as too restrictive, the affiliation has extra lately known as for stiffer penalties in opposition to smugglers of donkey physique components.

Donkeys in Africa
Donkeys in Africa are more and more being killed for physique components buying and selling. Picture by Africa Gómez through Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal are amongst African nations which have lately banned the export of donkey skins and derivatives to satisfy rising demand from China.

In line with The Donkey Sanctuary, a U.Okay.-based animal welfare and rescue charity, round 4.8 million donkeys are slaughtered yearly for his or her skins, wealthy in collagen, an essential ingredient in conventional Chinese language medication. The charity says home provides meet less than 50% of China’s demand for donkey skins.

Banner picture courtesy of J.A.C.Okay Primate Rehabilitation Centre.

Benjamin Jumbe in Kampala, Charles Mpaka in Blantyre, and Orji Sunday in Lagos contributed to this bulletin.

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Animals, Apes, Chimpanzees, Conservation, Crime, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Law, Great Apes, Illegal Trade, International Trade, Lions, Poaching, Primates, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife consumption, Wildlife Crime, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking


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