Cameroon Tribune, April 11, 2013
Djoum (Dja and Lobo) An ivory dealer has been arrested by wildlife law enforcement officials in Djoum, in the South Region. The 29-year old man was trying to sell the ivory when he was arrested. He had in his possession 20 ivory tusks, in violation of the 1994 wildlife law that stipulates that anyone found in possession of protected wildlife species is considered to have captured or killed the species and is liable to a prison term of up to 3 years and or a fine of up to 10 million CFA francs.
The operation that was carried out with the collaboration of the Forces of Law and Order falls within the framework of the national programme on effective wildlife law enforcement that was launched in 2003 by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. The programme aims at tracking down wildlife criminals and prosecuting them in the courts of Cameroon.
When the ivory was seized, it was discovered that they were all very small ivory tusks each weighing less than 5 kilogrammes meaning they were extracted from totally protected elephant species – young elephants. According to reports coming in from the South, the dealer had his base in a locality close to the town of Djoum were he operated with impunity, putting together huge stocks of ivory and ferrying them to Djoum when demand was readily available.
Investigations into the matter equally reveal a worrying trend. The dealer revealed that he had ivory contraband connections in the Republic of Congo. This is the third time, this year, that ivory traffickers are revealing they have connections in Congo. Early last month, 24 small ivory tusks made up of mostly tusks from young elephants were seized from three dealers in Yaounde who were instantly arrested. They also revealed that their connections run deep into Congo. In fact one of the dealers revealed that he operates from Congo, through Cameroon and beyond – to Europe and other African countries.
Speaking to the press after the Yaounde operation that saw 24 ivory tusks seized, the Chief of Control Brigade at the Centre Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, Benjamin Zambo declared that” We should understand that we are in a global village and Cameroon is like a crossroad in the CEMAC zone. They are roads that link Cameroon with the other neighbouring countries, and with the opening of the road from Sangmelima to Congo, poachers have also found easy means to ferry ivory that they obtain from these countries.”