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Togo arrests large-scale ivory trafficker accused of fueling deaths of 10,000 elephants

Togo has arrested a high-profile ivory trafficker whose work activists say has fueled the slaughter of more than 10,000 elephants dating back to the 1970s.

Environment Minister Dede Ekoue said Wednesday trafficker Emile N'Bouke was found to be in possession of 700 kilograms of ivory at the time of his arrest Tuesday afternoon.

The 58-year-old N'Bouke told journalists after his arrest that he had been involved in the ivory trade for more than 30 years but claimed he had a "special permit" of authorization.

Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization that began investigating N'Bouke late last year, said it was the first arrest of its kind in Togo, which has emerged in recent years as a main transit point for ivory bound for Asia and other markets.