Poachers have done terrible harm to the elephant population all throughout Africa, and one man is particularly infamous for illegally killing hundreds of elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mobanza Mobembo Gérard, also known as ‘Guyvanho,’ is a notorious poacher in the DCR, and according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), he led a group of about 25 poachers who may have killed over 500 elephants over the past twelve years alone.
Earlier this month, though, Guyvanho was brought to justice in a landmark sentencing. A criminal court in the DCR sentenced him to 30 years in prison for charges that include “attempted murder of Park rangers, trafficking of ivory from poached elephants, and possession of military weapons.” He will also ha ve to pay about $68,000 to rangers that were his victims.
The sentencing is a huge win for all wildlife, especially elephants. And thankfully, it may be a sign of justice to come for other poachers in the DCR. The WCS says that Guyvanho is the first wildlife poacher to be sentenced by the criminal court. Prior to his case, all wildlife cases were handled by civil courts and carried a maximum penalty of five years of incarceration. Hopefully, his sentence will send a powerful message to other poachers who wish to avoid the same fate.
The poacher was first arrested in a small town in 2018, but he escaped from prison. A warrant was out for his arrest, and he exchanged gunfire with rangers in multiple instances and avoided being taken into custody. In May last year, a ranger patrol came across Guyvanho’s poaching group, and two rangers were wounded as the group opened fire. Though Guyvanho escaped that encounter, he was later located again and arrested in July 2019.
The problem of poaching is far from solved, but the arrest of such a notorious wildlife criminal is a huge victory for the animal kingdom and the people who defend it.