white-collar mafia

Senegal: when timber trafficking fuels rebellion in Casamance

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Timber Trafficking

By Mehdi Ba, in Dakar

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Posted on July 13, 2022 11:58

Between Senegal and China, via The Gambia, the illegal trade in rosewood continues to flourish. An ecological disaster that generates colossal sums of money and finances an armed struggle.

This is part 4 of a 6-part series

The name could evoke a dinosaur straight out of the Jurassic Park films, but Pterocarpus Erinaceus couldn’t be further from a reconstructed pterodactyl, flying around the big screen and scaring children. In the south of Senegal, this species of precious wood – called, both, rosewood or vène wood – has long been one of the secret treasures of the green forests of Casamance; an ecological treasure, of course, before its uncontrolled exploitation and clandestine trade turned into a lucrative business involving Senegal, the Gambia and China, against the backdrop of an armed rebellion that quickly realised how much money they could make.

A deadly ambush

On 24 January 2022, a bloody encounter was a reminder that the long-standing conflict in this southern region of Senegal is not just about the independence demands of the Movement of Democratic Forces of

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