17 January 2013

Cameroon: illegal wildlife traders in custody yaounde

A man aged about 40 years has been arrested in Yaounde in possession of a leopard skin.

The arrest was carried out by the National Control Brigade of the Ministry Forestry and Wildlife with the support of the police of the 10th Police District in Yaounde. Leopards are totally protected by the 1994 wildlife law of Cameroon which stipulates that anyone found in possession of part of dead or live protected wildlife species such as leopards is liable to a prison term of from 1-3 years and or pay a fine of from 3 to 10 million CFA francs.The dealer was arrested in the Emana neighbourhood in Yaounde while he was bargaining the price of the leopard skin with a client.

Two other wildlife traffickers were equally arrested in Mindourou in the East Region by officials of the Mindourou Forestry and Wildlife Control Post. Assorted protected wildlife species were seized from the traffickers. According to sources from the outpost of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, the two dealers had been tracked for a long time following the uncovering of their illegal trade in wildlife parts.

A non governmental organization called LAGA is assisting authorities in establishing a case file against the dealers who are expected to appear in the Abong Mbang Court of First Instance in the upcoming days. The operation falls within the wildlife law enforcement process launched in 2003 by the government of Cameroon to fight the illegal trade in protected wildlife species. This programme is translating into concrete realities the wishes of those who sat down in 2003 and came out with the Yaounde Ministerial Declaration on Africa Forests Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG). The AFLEG Declaration was partly based on the consideration that effective law enforcement requires that information on legislation and policies and their implementation be transparently available.

Furthermore, the Declaration underscores the need to invite NGOs to form advisory groups to help guide the sub-regional task force on effective wildlife laws on wildlife resources management. The Declaration emphasises the need to, "mobilise support from government, Non-Government and multilateral agencies to control illegal hunting and internationally wildlife trade in Africa". This is why the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife has been unfailing to get people working together to address the wildlife conservation problem, especially the issue of wildlife law enforcement. Even some diplomatic missions in Cameroon have in one stage or the other joined hands with governments and the civil society organisations in helping the authorities implement Cameroon's wildlife laws.

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