Congolese Officials Sanctioned for Participating in Wildlife Trafficking

Опубликовано: 21 Август 2023

Monkey CageGreat apes and okapi from the Democratic Republic of Congo were trafficked to countries such as China. (Photo: PxHere, License)

The United States has banned three Congolese public officials and their wives from entering the country, claiming that the three had falsified permits to traffic protected species in exchange for bribes.

"As public officials responsible for wildlife protection, they abused their public positions by trafficking chimpanzees, gorillas, okapi, and other protected wildlife from the DRC, primarily to the People’s Republic of China, using falsified permits, in return for bribes," stated the U.S. Department of State.

The three are current and former heads of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and the DRC Management Authority for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These entities are dedicated to the protection and conservation of the country's biodiversity, as well as combating illicit markets of fauna and flora.

In August 2021, one of these officers was suspended from the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development for allegedly being involved in mismanagement and serious breaches of statutory duties.

Congo is a biodiverse country, home to great apes and unique species only found in the region, such as okapi. According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, international trafficking has been increasing in the country since at least the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and involves corrupt officials who facilitate the issuance of false export documents that ease trafficking.

"The DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) is a major hub for trafficked wildlife and wildlife products moving from Africa to Asia and the Middle East. This includes vast quantities of ivory and pangolin scales, as well as rhino horn, and endangered live animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and African gray parrots," stated the U.S. Department of State.