The Cameroon Tribune

Amindeh Blaise Atabong,
December 28, 2017

In the face of increasing organised poaching across the national territory
and the central African subregion, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife
has in recent times been putting up a strong and consistent riposte.

The antipoaching efforts, which are continuously beefed up, have been
paying off, thwarting the threats to wildlife and biodiversity.

On Tuesday December 12, 2017, eco-guards attached to the south branch of
the Dja Wildlife Reserve intercepted some ivory traffickers in Djoum.

The operation led to the seizure of 216 elephant tusks and 81 elephant
tails.

One of the traffickers was also arrested and is presently in the custody of
security officials. It is suspected that about 108 elephants must have been
killed to obtain the stock, but wildlife authorities are yet to ascertain
the origin of the booty.

“Investigations have been opened to know where the elephant products are
coming from,” the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Philip Ngwese
told Cameroon Tribune.

The Minister said concrete proposals will be made to hierarchy as to what
will be done to the seized stock, suggesting that it is possible the tusks
and tails will be incinerated.

The Djoum seizure is coming barely one month after operatives of the Police
Mobile Intervention Unit seized another consignment of 160 elephant tusks.

Minister Ngole Philip Ngwese has said “in cooperation with local, bilateral
and multilateral partners, government will sustain the fight against
crossborder criminality, create more awareness in countries that provide a
market for ivory, cooperate with neighbouring countries through applicable
bilateral and tri-national cooperation agreements, and source funding for
the implementation of the emergency action plan to secure protected areas
in Cameroon.”

The European Union has commended the efforts of the Ministry of Forestry
and Wildlife. During a recent courtesy visit to the Minister of Forestry
and Wildlife, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Cameroon,
Hans-Peter Schadek said he noted with satisfaction the announcement of the
seizure of 216 elephant tusks and 81 elephant tails. The Ambassador said
the European Union will constantly support the fight against poaching and
ivory trafficking.

 

he following is an interview with Ngole Philip Ngwese,
Cameroon?s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife]*

*Your ministry has been putting up a relentless fight against poaching, yet
the vice persists. What are the challenges?*

We face challenges at three different levels: Firstly in the human resource
domain. In terms of numbers, the forest guards are not yet enough to cover
the area under our control or which we are to control. Remember, sometimes
back, recruitments into the public service were suspended but gradually the
situation was regularised. A few eco-guards are recruited and put at my
disposal but we are trying to step up the numbers.

The second challenge is the training itself. Not all of the ecoguards have
proper or adequate training. However, we are doing everything to ensure
they are up to standard.

Due to the realities on the ground, it can be noticed that the poachers we
had yesterday are different from those today as those nowadays are heavily
armed and more equipped.

They use war weapons and ammunitions to bring down elephants. So
consequently, I think we have to setup the training of our staff and that
is exactly what we are doing. Again, we have a setback at the level of the
equipment; weapons and ammunitions, our staff on the ground are using but
for the past four to five years, we have been working with the Ministry of
Defence.

We have already acquired a good number of modern weapons to enable
ecoguards face the challenges they meet on the ground.

*We are aware there is a management plan for protected areas. How far have
you gone with implementation?*

We have difficulties to implement our management plan of these protected
areas.

In 2012, following the mass killing of elephants in the Bouba-Ndjida
National Park, we came up with an emergency development plan of protected
areas, which we thought will be financed, given the enthusiasm shown by
some of our partners.

It was a five year development plan (2012-2017) and we needed about FCFA
126 billion.

No sooner was the plan adopted our partners began dragging their feet and
government has been doing it virtually alone and you agree with me that
with the meagre resources we have, it is not easy to implement such
programmes.

*What appraisal do you make of the collaboration of locals in anti-poaching
efforts?*

There is complicity on the ground. We have little collaboration from the
people and those you could not suspect could be involved in such business
are caught in poaching activities, thus making the issue difficult and
compounded for us.

Yet, we have the duty to track them down and we are doing just that. I can
assure the poachers will always meet us on their way.

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