Illegal forest exploitation in the country has once again come in the spotlight with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) making public a list of culprits either undergoing grilling in various courts across the country or those guilty already sanctioned with various fines.
A May 31, 2012 release from MINFOF outlines the different crimes committed, the perpetrators, ongoing court cases, some verdicts already passed and the different sanctions meted out to the defaulting exploiters. According to the 18-page communiqué, published in Cameroon Tribune of Thursday June 7, the numerous court cases have been filed by the ministry and its regional delegations. The offences range notably from illegal logging, non-respect of regulations in force, exploitation of wood beyond authorised limits and encroaching and destroying illegal timber exploitation in non-permanent forest estates. While some of the cases are still pending judgment in different courts across the country, others have been judged and sentences passed. There are financial penalties ranging from FCFA 500,000 to FCFA six million and prison terms of 12 to 18 months.
The bulk of the crimes are from the forestry sector with the anti-poaching unit and the various Regional Delegations of the ministry disclosing diverse cases where legality had been sold to dogs. Either people have been caught in possession of protected animal species, forging of hunting permits, river poisoning, trafficking of protected species through the internet, illegal possession of firearms, among others. Those already found guilty have been slammed prison terms and diverse fines.
Last year, MINFOF suspended over 72 wood recovery and timber recovery companies in the non-permanent forestry sector holding the Wood Removal Permits and the Authorisations for Timber Recovery for diverse activities that caused prejudice to government's efforts to ensure transparency and sustainable forest management.