|One of dozen wood-laden Gambian trucks seized by Senegal army|
After his tour of the area with two of his colleagues, Augustin Tine, the Armed Forces Minister vowed to end the pillaging of the Casamance forest cover "within days" by a handful of greedy criminal elements bent on destroying the "Senegalese economy and the future development of the country."
The seizure was made in the Ziguinchor area where surveillance has been intensified, according to the military commander in Diouloulou on the border with The Gambia "where seizures have been considerable" according to the commander.
The three ministers of the Armed Forces, Interior and Environment, touring the region have moved from Diouloulou to the Department of Bignona where the illegal trafficking and exploitation is more intense and the destruction of the forest cover more visible devastating.
The seizures of trucks with Gambian registrations and other logging equipment have been taking place in every area that the ministers visited and have netted massive amounts of logging trailers, cranes as well as trucks. According to a local army commander, "the figures relate only to sites visited, but the seizures go beyond that. We are in this fight, in collaboration with the other services, to preserve the remaining forest cover." The operation revealed that the traffickers are well equipped and sophisticated.
There are unconfirmed reports that Senegal intends to take legal action against the traffickers. Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator has been implicated in these illegal operations. And according to the former Senegalese Environment minister, The Gambia has earned US$ 238.5 million from the illegal export of redwood to China, the second highest in west Africa, after Nigeria. When one considers that the Gambia has only 4,000 hectares of forest, it suggests that the redwood exploited in Casamance finds its way into Banjul for export to China.