GABON: transitional government readjusts its decision on the slaughter of elephants

Jan 11, 2024 | News

By Boris Ngounou, Afrik21

After giving the green light to the population to kill elephants that ravage plantations or break up houses, Gabon’s President of the Transition is reversing his decision. Giving pride of place to the human element, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema acknowledges that human-elephant conflicts must be settled in strict compliance with the law. This clarification was backed up by a press release from the Gabonese Ministry of Justice on the conditions governing the slaughter of elephant pests.

The transitional Gabonese government has reviewed its decision on the slaughter of crop-raiding elephants. At the New Year’s Eve ceremony on 4 January 2024 at the presidential palace in Libreville, the head of state pointed out that the man-elephant conflict in Gabon must be settled in strict compliance with the law. “Yes, we must protect people from elephants. But protecting people whose flesh or property is attacked does not mean slaughtering elephants, which are a fundamental part of our environment. Everything must therefore be done in accordance with our laws and regulations on the subject”, declared General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema.

Only shoot pachyderms in self-defence
On the same day, a press release from the Ministry of Justice provided further details of this warning from the Gabonese President of the Transition. According to the Ministry, the measures taken by the President of the Transition are based on article 172 of law no. 016/01 of 31 December 2001 on the Forestry Code in the Gabonese Republic, which stipulates that “legitimate defence is understood to mean the prohibited act of hunting carried out in the immediate need to defend oneself, others or one’s harvest”.

The Ministry of Justice press release also points out that “apart from legitimate self-defence, fully protected animal species, in particular the elephant, may not be hunted or captured. Those responsible for poaching are therefore liable to prosecution and penalties ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to 3 to 6 months’ ritual imprisonment, in addition to a fine of between one million and 10 million CFA francs”.

At least 4 elephants have already been slaughtered
The Gabonese government’s new stance on the slaughter of elephants was prompted by the controversy surrounding the announcement made by the President of the Transition at the beginning of December 2023. During a tour of the interior of the country, he met and exchanged views with the local population, who presented him with their concerns, including the horrors of the human-elephant conflict. In no uncertain terms, the Head of State called for the killing of elephants that attack crops and the release of all those imprisoned for killing a pachyderm.

Since Oligui Nguema’s announcement, local media have reported that at least four elephants have already been killed.

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