Ivory Coast: Seizure of more than 3.5 tonnes of pangolin scales cremated by the authorities

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Ivorian authorities cremated in front of the press, Tuesday in Abidjan, more than 3.5 tonnes of pangolin scales , the most poached mammal in the world. These scales were seized during various operations in 2017 and 2018 and led to the arrest of around 20 people.

“It is international traffic that has been dismantled. (…) We are fighting against poaching but also the illicit trafficking of protected species, ”said Minister of Water and Forests Alain Richard Donwahi, after setting one of the four bonfires on fire. “The pangolin shell is much sought after in traditional Chinese medicine (…) and in Vietnam in particular. In Asia, the price can go up to 1,000 dollars per kilo, ”explains Rens Ilgen, coordinator of the American NGO Eagle, which participated in the operations.

Almost $ 20 billion

The traffic “is bigger than this country. There are hunters everywhere. Abidjan is a city of commerce and [the scales] are collected [nt] here ”, he continued. The total traffic around protected species “represents 20 billion dollars in the world” while the penalties incurred are relatively low compared to those of drug trafficking, he stressed.

“It’s transnational crime. It is not a traffic located only in Ivory Coast. All this traffic hovers over the entire sub-region. Sometimes these are species that have been killed in Guinea or everywhere in the sub-region. It goes through Ivory Coast to go to Asian countries, “said Abidjan prosecutor Richard Adou. “It is essential that people in the shadows cannot take advantage of the death of our protected species,” he added.