The ‘devil’ has been arrested over Elephant tusks in Tanzania

Tanzanian law enforcement authorities have arrested a notorious elephant poacher and trader in illegal ivory following a manhunt that lasted more than a year, according to NGO Elephant Action League (EAL).

EAL disclosed that The National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) arrested 45-year-old Boniface Matthew Mariango, nicknamed The Devil or Shetani (in Kiswahili).

“This arrest is yet another substantial breakthrough in Tanzania’s anti-poaching and anti-trafficking efforts, with implications also reaching into neighbouring countries,” said Andrea Crosta, co-founder of the Elephant Action League and the WildLeaks initiative, a US based organisation that investigates wildlife crime around the world.

Tanzania lost around 85,000 elephants to poaching between 2009 and 2014, a recent elephant census in the country shows. The mammals are killed for their tusks, to satisfy the demand for ivory in Asia.

“After these high profile arrests in Tanzania and the commitment to ban ivory by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in their respective countries, I can finally say that there is hope for the elephants,” said Crosta. “We congratulate the NTSCIU for their many recent successes. This task force, and its men and women, represent real hope for elephants and for Tanzania.”

NTSCIU had also, earlier in the month, arrested the notorious Queen of Ivory Yang Feng Glan.

The Devil Mariango, who is directly responsible for the killing of thousands of elephants managed over 15 poaching syndicates in Burundi, Mozambique, southern Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia for years. A senior government official describes the arrest as a major breakthrough in the fight against poaching syndicates in Tanzania: “After the arrest of the Ivory Queen, Shetani became enemy number one. We have been hunting him since June of 2014. He has evaded arrest again and again, slipping away at least seven times, but this time we caught him, in a wild manhunt after informers reported his whereabouts in the outskirts of Dar.

“The evidence we have against Shetani is crushing. He is the major supplier of weapons, ammunition and cars to poaching syndicates operating across the country and beyond.”

He explained that Mariango is the ringleader of a poaching network directly supplying Feng Glan. However, he says their arrest does not signify the end of the fight.

“With both of them now in custody we will be able, for the first time, to truly crack down on the international networks involved in the illegal trafficking of ivory.”