1st Semester Report 2020

Despite many obstacles, prominent among which was the Covid-19 pandemic, tangible achievements were made over this period in LAGA's collaboration with MINFOF in the fields of investigation, arrest, prosecution, media exposure, government relations and international activities with focus on the fight against corruption, illegal wildlife trade, principally traffickers in ivory, leopard skins and pangolin scales, human bones, and mandrills. The team stepped up its activism, fortitude, and belief during the health crisis to push forward for operations. Government measures and guidelines were strictly respected alongside organisational measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The efforts produced sterling results in combatting the trafficking of pangolin scales, ivory, human bones, mandrills and leopard skins.  An operation against two corrupt military men witnessed the seizure of 380kg of pangolin scales while wildlife investigations uncovered a sinister trade in human skeletons in the West of the country with the arrest of 6 traffickers. 

23 major traffickers were arrested, at a rate of one for every 8 days, approximately. 35 % stayed behind bars from the day of arrest and the low rate of imprisonment was the result of guidelines by the Ministry of Justice to reduce the population of those locked up for fear of congestion at the various prisons because of the nature of the spread of Covid-19. Corruption was observed and combated in a number of cases. 23 new cases were brought to the courts and 13 traffickers were found guilty and given prison sentences and or fines, damages, and penalties. 4 traffickers given a penalty of 5 years. Damages awarded the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) stood at 5,942,00 F CFA (about $11,884). Media exposure was at the rate of one media piece per day.

The EAGLE network had significant results taking into consideration the lockdown measures implemented in the various countries as 50 traffickers were arrested across 4 countries within the network. The handling of the Covid-19 crisis for all the EAGLE countries was effectively managed by the Central Coordination Unit working in collaboration with the management of the various countries.  The LAGA team hosted an activist from Gabon for a month-long experience sharing visit.