Two of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s most prolific wildlife traders have been handed jail terms this year, in a rare spell of conservation wins for Congolese law enforcement. Salomon Mpay 51, was arrested at a Kinshasa hotel on Jan. 30, following a two-year joint investigation between the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and Conserv Congo, a Kinshasa-based not-for-profit. Mpay, who goes by the pseudonym of “The King,” was caught with 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of cut-up ivory, which he intended to sell to an undercover agent posing as a client. He was also in possession of almost 2.5 metric tons of pangolin scales. However, delays in issuing a search warrant following his arrest meant accomplices had time to move the contraband before the authorities could return to seize the goods. Photos on his cellphone indicated a further ivory stockpile of 3 metric tons kept at an undisclosed location; investigators are actively looking for the items. Similar quantities of pangolin scales and ivory have sold for as much as $8 million and $6 million, respectively. On April 22, Gombe Magistrates Court in Kinshasa, the capital, sentenced Mpay to two years in prison. While Mpay’s arrest has been hailed by conservationists as a rare victory in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade in DRC, lawyers acting on behalf of ICCN, the state-run wildlife authority, and Conserv Congo have lodged an appeal, through the public prosecutor’s office, describing the sentence as unduly lenient for a transnational wildlife trafficker…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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