On 29 October 2015, a huge step forward in the war against the ivory poaching syndicates took place when the Serious Crimes National and International Unit arrested Boniface Matthew Mariango in Tanzania.
This major arrest follows the recent arrest of the Queen of Ivory, Jang Feng Glan earlier this month. This most recent arrest is the second high-profile wildlife criminal who will face prosecution this year.
Officials believe that Yang Feng Glan smuggled at least 720 elephant tusks from east Africa to China. Follow-up operations have netted many of her suppliers. Mariango's arrest has most certainly taken down many more suppliers.
Mariango, otherwise known as Shetani, or the Devil, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of elephants over the years and he was the most wanted poacher and trafficker in Tanzania. His operations extended to fifteen syndicates that operated in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Burundi.
Mr. Andrea Crosta of the Elephant Action League said, “finally, we see big fish getting caught in the law enforcement net.”
The arrest of Shetani on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam heralded a major breakthrough for the future of elephants. His arrest was the result of information received and brought to an end the massive yearlong manhunt for this wildlife criminal.
A senior government official said that they have overwhelming evidence against Shetani. He was responsible for the supply of transport, weapons and ammunition to poachers in Tanzania and well beyond the borders.
With the two major players in ivory poaching and trafficking behind bars, this will be a big setback for the syndicates and raises hope for the future of the elephants.
Crosta said that with the commitment to ban ivory trade by the US and more recently by China, that there is hope for the elephants. “Let’s keep fighting,” is his motto for the future.
Crosta is also working with WildLeaks, which is a wildlife crime initiative. They receive and evaluate information and turn it into action to combat wildlife crime.