Abraham Ndjana Modo,
November 21, 2017

Three members of a family, a man, his wife and his nephew, were arrested in
Sangm?lima on November 15 in possession of four ivory tusks and giant
pangolin scales.

A close relationship between ivory and pangolin traffic.

The three were arrested during a punch operation carried out in the city of
Sangma?lima (southern Cameroon), by the departmental delegation of Forests
and Wildlife Department of Dja and Lobo, in collaboration with the brigade
of the gendarmerie and the technical support of Laga, an NGO that fights
against wildlife crime.

The main suspect arrived from Oveng, a nearby town, the day before their
arrest with two ivory tusks and a bag of giant pangolin scales. The other
two joined after and the team set out to sell their products. They arrived
with their products in a car to close the deal on the morning of November
15, 2017, but the wildlife officers immediately stopped their car.

According to the same source, he bought the ivory in Gabon and was about to
make huge profits during his arrest. He also specialized in the trade of
giant pangolin scales that he sold in Yaound?, precisely in the Nkolndongo
and Mvogbi districts. His wife played a major role in setting up the
transaction and accompanied her husband to make sure everything went as

According to the preliminary investigation, he bought these two ivory tusks
from a Cameroonian trafficker during his stay in Gabon. He then traveled to
Oveng with the tusks and continued to Sangm?lima.

He also trades in cocoa. Investigations show that he often conceals
wildlife products in his bags of cocoa and transports them from Oveng to
Sangmelima, then to Yaound? where he finalizes most of his transactions.

By moving these Oveng tusks the day before his arrest, he made sure to
avoid all the checkpoints so that these products arrived safely in
Sangm?lima. He collected the pangolin scales in the neighboring villages of

Growing demand for scales

The other suspect bought two ivory tusks in Tenir, a village in the
southern region known for its illegal ivory activities between Baka pygmies
and ivory traffickers. He joined his uncle for the said ivory transaction
the day the three were arrested.

These traffickers would engage Baka pygmies in this village to browse
forests to Gabon in search of elephants as prey. Subsequently, they sell
the ivory tusks of these elephants to traffickers.

The woman was released on bail and the two others were remanded in custody
while all three are warned for killing wildlife, illegally detaining and
circulating parts of these wildlife, punished by the 1994 law on wildlife.

The possession by a person of a part of an entirely protected wild species
causes to this person, the responsibility for the slaughter of this animal.
The penalty can be up to 3 years imprisonment and / or a fine of up to 10
million Fcfa.

The arrest came after a major operation in Douala by the police mobile
intervention group (GMI), which seized 158 ivory tusks, more than a ton of
pangolin scales and dozens of feathers and parrot heads. The convoy was
heading to the port of Douala for illegal export to Nigeria.

The file has been sent to the regional delegation of Forests and Coastal
Wildlife which is in the process of initiating legal proceedings against
the three suspects,

These operations demonstrate a close relationship between ivory and
pangolin trafficking.

This relationship may become increasingly clear as ivory traffickers take
advantage of their cunning to also handle pangolin scale trafficking.

The expertise needed to conceal and transport ivory is clearly suited to
the handling of pangolin scales and with the recent surge in prices and
increasing demand for pangolin scales, many ivory traffickers have thrown
themselves into the scales of pangolins, or simply integrated the scales
trade into their activities.

This is very bad news for wildlife enforcement agencies, as ivory
traffickers are among the most vicious in the world.

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.