Target: James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Africa Program.
Goal: Commend the capture and conviction of a notorious elephant poacher
In a victory for environmental groups worldwide, the Congolese Supreme Court recently ordered Ghislain Ngondjo (known as “Pepito”) to five years in prison for the slaughter of dozens of elephants. The five year sentence is the maximum in the country for poaching. Sarah Sparling, a U.S. citizen who works with a microfinance organization in Congo, states that Ngondjo has “plagued Odzala-Kokoua National Park and its surrounding area for over a decade with his crippling presence.”
Along with assisting in the killing of dozens of elephants, Ngondjo also recruited new poachers and supplied them with illegal assault rifles. Disturbingly, he is also accused of making death threats to park rangers and staff in Odzala National Park. Two other poachers were also tried with Ngondjo: one received the maximum sentence, the other two years. A partnership between the government, the African Parks Networks, and PALF (Project for the Application of Law for Fauna) was said to be instrumental to the outcome of the case. PALF is composed of members of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Aspinall Foundation (a British charity).
Elephant populations, especially those in Central Africa, have been decimated by poaching; killings have reached record levels. A recent study found that the population of forest elephants, mostly located in the Congo Basin, had been reduced by 60 percent in the last decade due to poaching. Experts estimate that 35,000 elephants were killed in 2012 for their ivory tusks. In fact, the issue has become so serious that U.S. President Barack Obama recently issued an Executive Order forming an anti-poaching task force and “prioritizing the protection of elephants and conviction of commercial poachers and traffickers.
Although conservationists have consistently called upon governments to “deliver stiffer penalties to poachers and other wildlife criminals,” many are released with little more than a warning. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Congo has sent the message that poaching and other related crimes will not be tolerated. By signing this petition, you are commending the capture and conviction of one of the nation’s most notorious elephant poachers.
Dear Mr. Deutsch,
In a victory for environmental groups worldwide, the Congolese Supreme Court recently ordered Ghislain Ngondjo to five years in prison for the slaughter of dozens of elephants. One reporter states that the poacher plagued the region with his crippling presence.
As you are well aware, the capture and conviction of Ngondjo was no easy task. Fortunately, the partnership between your organization and the Aspinall Foundation, PALF, was able to work closely with the government and African Parks Network. Some have said that this successful government-NGO partnership was instrumental to the outcome of the case.
Due to the efforts of PALF, important cases that might be quickly overlooked are now being taken seriously by legal experts concerned with political and environmental issues. In this particular circumstance, the Congolese government is now able to send a clear message that poaching and other related crimes will not be tolerated. I am commending the government of the Republic of Congo and PALF for your work towards the capture and conviction of one of the nation’s most notorious elephant poachers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe via Flickr