Zimbabwean authorities have arrested four foreign nationals from three different countries for wildlife trafficking.
A spokesperson for the Zimbabwean Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks), Tinashe Farawo, said two Congolese nationals, a Malawian and a Zambian were arrested during a routine border post check after they had entered the country with the apes in a truck.
They were found with over 26 great apes illegally removed from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The animals were being cared for by Zimbabwe officials until they could be returned to DRC, Farawo said.
DRC’s environment minister Claude Nyamugabo Bazibuhe confirmed the development.
He said: “The investigation continues… to identify exactly the specimens” seized in Zimbabwe “before considering their repatriation,” the minister said.
“All great apes (gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees) and pangolins are fully protected.”
DRC, with its tropical rainforest, is one of the world’s last refuges for endangered great apes, such as eastern lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas.
DR Congo’s environment minister Claude Nyamugabo Bazibuhe also announced a large seizure of pangolin scales from the country’s northeast.
Bazibuhe said in a statement that 32 live chimpanzees were recently taken from the Haut-Katanga province in southeastern DRC, on the border with Zambia.
Traffickers used fake documents to take them out of DRC and were destined for South Africa, he said.
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