Tusks from Gabon's forest elephants were tracked through Togo en route to Asian countries. (Photo via Tchebe.over-blog)
Togo's role in the ivory trade was discovered about months of investigation.
"Many of those tusks came from ... my friend's country," Gnassingbe said, turning apologetically toward Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba.
Gnassingbe went on to say that until the U.S. brought this up, Gabon had never mentioned the issue of poaching. In fact, he said, this is the first time many of them have had this discussion in a group setting. This begs the question: Why is there no continental strategy to end poaching?
When asked what they would like from the U.S. to combat poaching, the overall consensus was equipment. The ranger death toll is escalating, as they are deep in a war in which they are outmanned, outgunned and undertrained.
Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba asked for helicopters, Tanzania's Kikwete requested night vision goggles, Togo's Gnassingbe wants infrared scanners, and Gabon's Ondimba military support.
Additionally, Ondimba apprehensively brought up the proverbial elephant in the room: diplomatic pressure on China. "Let's kill the market. We'll save the animals, we'll also save human beings."