Katanga, DR Congo, Jan 26 – Rombeau Lunda Ngandu, allegedly a notorious elephant poacher responsible for killing countless elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Katanga province, has been arrested and sent to a military court for trial, Save the Elephants reported.
Ngandu, who is believed to have commanded poaching gangs and personally killed more than 20 elephants in the besieged region in the past few years, was arrested after months of surveillance and investigations by rangers from the Upemba and Kundelungu National Parks.
Elephant populations in Katanga and the wider DRC have been in serious decline from poaching for more than a decade. The struggling elephant populations that remain in the DRC, a vast area suffering the continued presence of rebel militia and highly organized poaching gangs, are now the most threatened in Africa. Although once numbering many thousands, it is thought that as few as 180 elephants remain in Katanga today, according to a press release from Save the Elephants.
Ngandu’s arrest, announced on January 23 by the parks’ management, Forgotten Parks Foundation, and the Elephant Crisis Fund – an organization that supports the Foundation by funding anti-poaching efforts in the region, brings fresh hope that park authorities are starting to gain the upper hand over ivory poachers and traffickers.
He stands accused of having killed six elephants in 2017, including two pregnant females, after opening fire on a herd of 90 elephants a Mulenda in the Territory of Manono.
One of the heavily pregnant females was initially fatally shot, and another died of her injuries on the banks of the Congo River near the village of Kakombo four months later. Last month Rombeau is thought to have killed five hippos. Both species are protected by law.
More than 20 elephants are believed to have been killed by Rombeau over the past few years, and many more elephants are thought to have died at the hands of a gang of poachers operating under his command. One poacher who was arrested earlier during the course of the investigations claimed to have killed more than 30 elephants under the orders of Rombeau.
Ngandu will be tried in Kamina. If found guilty of the charges brought against him, he will be transferred to the Central Prison of Makala in Kinshasa to serve as an example to others.