DAKAR (Reuters) - Guinean authorities on Monday arrested a senior member of a wildlife trafficking network accused of selling thousands of live animals including endangered chimpanzees for over 30 years, according to a law enforcement NGO.
Former French colony Guinea is a major wildlife trafficking hub in West Africa with ivory, skins and shark fins, as well as live mammals regularly sold internationally by criminal groups.
Eco Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement (EAGLE) first began tracking Abdoul Salam Sidibé in 2013 when they learned he was seeking to sell a live manatee, a species classified as vulnerable, for about $50,000.
Since then, he has allegedly been involved in the sale of dozens of chimpanzees as well as rare birds and parrots, sometimes with the help of Guinea’s former wildlife director.
His father, Abdouramane Sidibé, was similarly arrested in Guinea last month as part of a crackdown on the same network.
“The arrest of the two most important members of the Sidibé network is a victory in the fight against international wildlife trafficking and corruption,” said Charlotte Houpline, director of Guinea’s Wara Conservation Project, part of the EAGLE network.
A Guinea government official was not immediately available for comment.
Guinea has one of the last remaining wild populations of Africa’s western chimpanzee thought to number fewer than 60,000 due to poaching for the pet trade as well as local demand for bush meat.
Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Sandra Maler