News / Africa

Togo Makes First Major Ivory Trade Arrest

Ivory trafficker Emile N'Bouke stands amidst seized ivory carvings and elephant tusks while talking with journalists after his arrest, in Lome, Togo, Aug. 6, 2013.
Ivory trafficker Emile N'Bouke stands amidst seized ivory carvings and elephant tusks while talking with journalists after his arrest, in Lome, Togo, Aug. 6, 2013.
The small West African nation of Togo made its first major arrest this week in the fight against what activists say is a burgeoning illegal ivory trade. The suspect, 58-year-old Emile N’Bouke, has allegedly been active for decades in a trade that contributed to the deaths of more than 10,000 African elephants.

N’Bouke was widely known as “The Boss”. For nearly four decades, activists said, he operated out of a small shop in Togo’s capital, Lome, arranging deals with clients in Asia and potentially the United States.

That came to an end on Tuesday afternoon, when authorities arrested him at his shop in an operation that uncovered more than 700 kilograms of ivory products.

How he was caught

N’Bouke’s arrest was spurred by an investigation begun late last year by the Last Great Ape Organization, which pushes for the enforcement of wildlife laws in West and Central Africa. The organization works in six countries, including those where elephants are poached, such as Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo.

It also works in transit countries such as Togo and Guinea, where ivory is shipped to global markets.

Ofir Drori, the organization’s founder, said he is convinced that by focusing on transit countries, officials can do much to curtail the slaughter of elephants in Africa because high-profile traders are the ones who are financing poaching activities.

“We need to focus on the big traffickers, not just the small poachers. Small poachers are activated by those big traffickers, and we need to have this kind of arrest, this kind of operation, all over Africa,” he stated.

Crackdown

Environment Minister Dede Ekoue said Togo’s government is committed to cracking down on the illegal ivory trade. But she adds it will require “global resources,” and that it would like to partner with countries, such as the United States, that have expertise in tracking illicit shipments.

Drori said he believes the arrest of “The Boss” could lead to progress on cases against other players in the industry. “There’s already a huge amount of information that comes out of this investigation -- different bank accounts, different collaborators elsewhere. So they are doing very good work. And we’re optimistic as to what can come out of this beyond just the arrest of a big ivory trafficker,” he said.

N’Bouke claimed after his arrest that all of his work was legal, and that he had a “special permit” granted by the authorities. Although the ivory trade is banned globally, activists said the maximum penalty under Togolese law is just one year in prison.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid