According to a press release issued by The Wildlife Conservation Society http://wcs.org a farmer was instrumental in having wildlife traffickers detained in Lusaka, Zambia by the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). The traffikers were part of an illegal network involved in the ivory trade.
The farmer, associated with Markets for Conservation (COMACO), a cooperative, gathered intelligence about the traffikers activities around the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. Using the information ZAWA arranged a sting operation and detained the two individuals. The farmer was himself a former poacher, and hence well acquainted with illegal activity in the area.
The authorities now have details about the names of the traders who are suspected of engaging in the sale of wildlife contraband such as ivory and leopard skins. The buyers are generally Congolese and Chinese.
COMACO has been active in Zambia since 2003 and works with farmers for the purpose of training them to improve their skills. In exchange, the farmers are expected to focus their efforts on conservation.
“These recent arrests all started with the good will of one of our lead farmers. We are definitely seeing a trend in farmer willingness to help with law enforcement and I believe we are now finally beginning to show the real benefits of the COMACO model,” Dale Lewis, President and Founder of COMACO, said in a press release.
Other incidents in the area on the eastern side have ocurred. A local police officer was arrested after it was discovered by farmers that he was involved in the poaching of elephants. The elephant ivory was never recovered, and a formal report was filed with ZAWA.
COMACO Farm Talk, a local radio program motivates farmers to phone in any illegal activity they observe and the tips are forwarded to local law enforcement agencies.