April 20, 2019

An alleged wildlife trafficker was arrested on 12 April 2019 in Meiganga
with pangolin scales and ivory carried on board a commercial bus. The
individual left Bertoua with the illegal products concealed in a bag and
boarded a bus to Ngaoundere, but was stopped by Customs at a checkpoint
located 10 km from Meiganea.

Customs asked everyone on the bus to get off and identify their luggage.
The owner of one of the baggage was very reluctant to identify his baggage
and, after verification, it was discovered that the man was 42 years old
and was the owner of the bag in question.

When the bag was torn open, he said that the ivory tusks were cow horns in
order to mislead the customs officers, but wildlife officers who were part
of the team immediately recognized the products as being pangolin scales
and ivory tusks. He was immediately arrested by the team of customs
officers, gendarmes and wildlife officers.

At the gendarmerie brigade where he was kept in custody, the contents of
the bag revealed that he had in his possession 24 kg of ivory and 12 kg of
pangolin scales, which he intended to sell to Ngaoundere according to
certain information.

He was presented to the Public Prosecutor who placed him in pre-trial
detention. Customs officers will then be responsible for transferring the
file to wildlife officials who take care of the procedures to ensure that
traffickers are prosecuted in accordance with the law.

A prosecution case was filed against the suspect and an international
non-governmental organization called LAGA technically assisted Customs and
wildlife officials in this process. This is part of the recently signed MoU
between LAGA and the Customs Service to help authorities fight cross-border
wildlife crime.

Trafficking in wildlife products is considered the main cause of the
decline of wild species in the country and on the continent. A recent IUCN
report indicates that about 110,000 African elephants have been decimated
by poaching over the last decade.

Another report released last year indicates that between 400,000 and 2.7
million pangolins are poached each year in Central African forests, a major
increase of 150%. Most of the traffic is cross-border and explains why the
country’s customs service is stepping up its measures against illegal
wildlife trafficking.

According to the wildlife law that governs the sector in Cameroon, any
person found in possession of parts of a totally protected species is
liable to a prison sentence ranging from 1 to 3 years and / or a fine of 3
to 10 million FCFA.