Saturday, January 21, 2017

10 Infamous Elephant Poachers

Conservationists fear that approximately 96 elephants are killed every single day for their ivory tusks. A single large tusk can sell on the black market for six thousand dollars, ten times the annual salary of a typical worker in the same region. In 2016, The Great Elephant Census reported results of a multi-year effort to count elephants in 18 African countries and the results were very disheartening. The census found that savanna elephant populations declined by thirty percent, almost two hundred thousand elephants between 2007 and 2014. The number one reason for the decline, illegal poaching for the animals’ ivory tusks.
Yang Feng Glan
In 2015, authorities in Africa arrested the “Queen of Ivory” after Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit had followed Yang Feng Glan for over a year. She had been traveling between Beijing, Uganda, and Tanzania, facilitating the illegal tusk trade. She was the key link between African poachers and buyers in China, where ivory can be sold for very expensive prices.
Appearing in court in October 2015, Glan was charged with smuggling ivory, seven hundred and six elephant tusks worth approximately three million dollars between 2000 and 2014. Authorities suspect she could have been engaging in the illegal trade dating all the way back to 1980. Being right in the middle of the illegal operation, investigators are hoping Glan will help them identify other key players in the trade, leading to more arrests and protecting the elephants and rhinos from further poaching.
Jean-Phillippe Nkaga
Determined to be the owner of thirty-seven pounds of ivory that had been seized, Jean-Phillippe Nkaga was arrested in December 2013. Three poachers detained by police months before named Nkaga as the owner of the illegal ivory. Nkaga is known by local police for organizing the mass slaughter of elephants and coordinating the trafficking of the resultant ivory. Nkaga had previously been in jail for possession of drugs and firearms, assault, and even a murder in which there was not enough evidence to jail him for a long time. Nkaga is a very violent person. At the time Nkaga was arrested, the laws against poaching were not strong enough to encourage rehabilitation.
Boniface Matthew Mariango aka The Devil
Considered the most infamous poacher in East Africa, authorities suspect that Boniface Matthew Mariango and his gangs are responsible for thousands of elephant deaths across Africa. He was arrested on October 29th, 2015, in Tanzania, after escaping capture for over a year. The Devil, as he was nicknamed, managed approximately fifteen criminal poaching and ivory smuggling syndicates. Mariango’s capture came soon after a census report showed that the Tanzania elephant population dropped sixty percent between 2009 and 2014.  

Hassan Idriss Gargaf
In the early 1960’s approximately fifty thousand elephants roamed Chad. Fast forward fifty years and elephants are on the brink of extinction with only one thousand of the majestic animals remaining. Hassan Garaf was one of the most infamous poachers responsible for the decline in the area. He commanded a gang of gunman who rampaged across the Sahel over several years, leaving a trail of dead elephants in their path.
In 2007, Garaf led the poachers into Zakouma where they eventually shot and killed two guards and thirteen elephants. During a police sting, the poacher bragged about killing twenty-six elephants in a single day. “He was very proud of his killing”. Gargaf and his gang murdered sixty-three elephants in August 2012 along the Chari River and forty elephants along the Chad-Cameroon border in an attack in which five Cameroonian forestry agents died. Garaf is now believed to be behind bars for all his various crimes however some are skeptical given his three previous escapes.
Pekei Shoke
There was outrage when Qumquat and her two daughters were found slaughtered for their ivory tusks. Qumquat was one of the best known matriarchs in the elephant population around Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. When the rangers discovered the bodies of the three elephants they also found a baby female elephant that was alive and well, Qumquat had a daughter that survived the attack. Shortly thereafter Big Life caught one of the killers, Pekei Shoke, in an operation with the Kenya Wildlife Service. Pekei was found guilty of killing the three elephants and sentenced to one year in prison, and a fine of approximately five-hundred-dollar.

Kerumpoti Leyian
In late 2013, scouts on an anti-poaching patrol in southern Kenya came across a dead elephant with its tusks missing. The scouts, tracker dogs, and the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers managed to track down Kerumpoti, arrest him, and confiscate the two elephant tusks in his possession. After posting bail, Leyian did not show up for his scheduled court appearance and disappeared. Kenya Wildlife Service re-arrested him almost one year later. In a twist of fate, Leyian was one of the first poachers to be charged under the new anti-poaching laws and was sentenced to seven years in prison without bail. This is a welcomed change to conservations when compared to the 1-year and five-hundred-dollar sentence given to Pekei Shoke.

Ben Simasiku
In 2012 Ben Simasiku, along with twelve other poachers, was captured with seventeen pieces of cut, raw ivory weighing two hundred fifty-three pounds. After skipping bail, Simasiku fled Botswana and went to Zambia. He was eventually arrested in Zambia by the ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) in 2014, with information obtained through Interpol’s “Operation Infra Terra”. He is one of the first people to ever be arrested with Interpol’s newly created most-wanted list of environmental crime fugitives.

Symphorien Sangha
One of Central Africa’s most infamous poachers, Symphorien Sangha specialized in killing elephants for their tusks. Sangha has been linked to a group of Sudanese poachers, who in 2010, crossed the Central African Republic and massacred twenty-five elephants before being stopped. Sangha managed to escape capture in this incident but not forever. He was also accused of shooting at Eco guards, seriously hurting one in 2010. He was finally arrested in Cameroon in 2012, ending his rampage against elephants and their protectors. After a year-long trial, Sangha was sentenced to three years in jail.

Baushe Bello
In Nigeria’s Yankari Game Reserve roamed one of the country’s most notorious poachers, Baushe Bello. No one knows how many elephants Bello has been responsible for killing but authorities know it is a significant amount. Bello became infamous for his penchant at firing at park rangers on sight. Sadly, in 2012, he shot and killed Hussaini Adamu Pau and almost killed several other rangers. He had evaded capture by constantly altering his location until October 2016. Together with the police and the Wildlife Conservation society, the Yankari rangers got their revenge and captured Bello, forcing him to answer for his crimes.
John Kaimoi Sumokwo
John Sumokwo has admitted to killing 70 elephants. Sumokwo usually hunted alone and at night. When he found an elephant he would sneak up on it and spear it through the heart, then cut off the animal’s ivory tusks with an axe.  He was sent to prison in 2011 and served a 2-year prison sentence for what he did, where self-admittedly, he was treated like the worst of worst criminals. He told authorities his motive was his family’s survival, his home land had experienced extreme famine and drought. In an “Exclusive Interview With An Elephant Poacher” Stephen Messenger quoted John Kaimoi as saying “But even when I interacted with people, I felt guilty. I had done something horrible. There was something bad inside me, but I resumed because I had no means. That’s the only thing I could do.”


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