Camer Be
December 18, 2017

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CAMEROON: Wildlife officers arrested two people who were charged in Djoum
following the seizure of 216 ivory tusks and 81 elephant tails in the car
of a colonel of the gendarmerie on 11 December 2017.

Both were charged with the illegal possession and marketing of protected
wildlife products and will appear in the Djoum District Court on December
19, 2017.

The colonel whose car contained ivory was taken to Yaounde with these ivory
tusks that were later handed over to the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife.

Following the arrest of these two persons, namely the alleged ivory
trafficker and the driver carrying the contraband, the wildlife
administration officials immediately ensured that the legal proceedings
against these suspects took place, conducted in accordance with wildlife
law. The two men were interviewed by the gendarmerie brigade of Djoum and a
report was drawn up in accordance with the law by the wildlife officers.
The case was immediately transmitted to the prosecutor of the Republic of
Djoum. The whole of this judicial procedure was conducted with the
technical assistance of the NGO LAGA, a law enforcement agency.

Some conservation experts say the presence of a military vehicle in another
case of trafficking in wildlife products is worrying and could ultimately
justify the accusations made by some investigative reports of the
suspicious role played by some unruly military wildlife trafficking in the
country and the subregion.

This may indicate suspicions about people involved and prosecuted. In 2014,
185 ivory tusks were seized in another military vehicle at a checkpoint in
Nsimalen.

According to Ofir Drori, the founder and director of the EAGLE network, a
network that brings together wildlife law enforcement organizations in
several countries, speaking from his Nairobi residence shortly after the
announcement of the arrest of these men and seizures of these products:
“The agents of the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife have done a very
commendable job considering the involvement of the army” while insisting
that the judicial proceedings brought against all the people involved
should be strictly followed.

According to the Wildlife Act of 1994, any person found in possession of
all or part of a protected wildlife species is considered to have killed or
captured that animal and is liable to a prison term of up to 3 years and to
a fine of up to 10 million francs. The law further provides that the
penalty is doubled when the offense is committed by a law enforcement
officer.

This can be quite a deterrent, especially for people involved in the
traffic in the locality of Djoum which is considered an ivory trafficking
center in the country?and several suspicions also weigh on the involvement
of some officials of this city.

The situation is further complicated by the growing rate of elephant
slaughter for ivory and the fact that some of the country’s animal parks
are guarded by the army. The Ministry of Forests and Wildlife can finally
get an idea of the situation and address the issues directly because the
importance of this arrest has meant that it is at the higher echelons of
the Ministry that these prosecutions have been conducted.