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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Authorities arrested Guinea's former wildlife director for allegedly playing a key role in trafficking chimpanzees and other endangered wildlife, an alliance formed by a United Nations initiative to save great apes said Tuesday.
Ansoumane Doumbouya, who was also Guinea's representative to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, was arrested Aug. 21 following investigations by Guinean authorities and Interpol, among others.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, according to the Great Apes Survival Partnership. The alliance, also called GRASP, is a U.N. initiative of governments, conservation and research organizations, U.N. agencies and private companies.
"To finally have him under arrest is a major achievement," said alliance coordinator Doug Cress.
Doumbouya, who was carrying blank official export permits when arrested, allegedly issued fraudulent CITES permits for years to export wildlife from the West African country, including manatees, parrots and monkeys, the alliance said. It is not clear how many chimpanzees and other apes were victims of Doumbouya's operations since 2008, said Cress.
In 2010, about 69 chimpanzees left Guinea, all destined for Chinese zoos or safari parks, according to a 2011 CITES mission to the West African country. Nearly 140 chimpanzees and 10 gorillas have been exported through the establishment of travel routes by Chinese development companies, the alliance said.
Bonobos were sent to Armenia in 2011 using fraudulent CITES permits signed by Doumbouya, the alliance said.
"We are very pleased by the strong message of the Guinean government," said Charlotte Houpline, head of an activist project to enforce trafficking laws. She called the arrest a "landmark in the fight against corruption and complicity facilitating the illegal wildlife trade."
Investigations will continue to gather more evidence, the alliance said.
Authorities also arrested another alleged international trafficker, Thierno Barry, for reportedly exporting protected species to Asia, the alliance said.
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