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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid