Seized poachers’ guns handed to Cameroon wildlife authorities | WWF

Seized poachers’ guns handed to Cameroon wildlife authorities

Posted on
23 May 2017
Thirty-seven Dane guns seized from suspect poachers have been handed over to wildlife authorities as Cameroon continues fight against poaching and wildlife crimes. Forest rangers working in the Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary in the South West Region of the country carried out the seizures during anti-poaching patrols between 2012 and 2016.

“The guns belonged to poachers and bush meat traders coming from communities living near or far away from the sanctuary,” says Fopa Samuel, Conservator of the sanctuary. Some of the guns were locally hand-made, while others were clandestinely purchased from local and unauthorized dealers in neighboring countries,” he adds. The Conservator said poachers whose guns are seized do not usually respond to summons issued for them to appear in court. “That is why we have decided to hand-over the guns to the Regional Delegate Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) for onward transmission to the competent Government Ministry,” he said.
The handing over of the guns is in accordance with Cameroon’s Forestry and Wildlife Law n°94-01 of 20 January 1994 which stipulates that, equipment seized in protected areas may be restored to the offender after final settlement of the compounding process, with the exception of arms and ammunitions, which shall be handed over to competent services of the Ministry of Territorial Administration.

Offenders may be prosecuted following section 106 of the law which states that: hunting using Dane guns is forbidden and a fine ranging from XAF 50000 (US dollar 100) to XAF 200000 (US dollar 400) or imprisonment from 20 days to two months or both shall be imposed on any offender.

Poaching still rife

“The number of Dane guns handed over to the delegation is testimony that poaching is still rife within protected areas,” says Issola Dipanda Francois, South West Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife. He called on park services to be more vigilant and ensure that wildlife crime is considerably reduced within protected areas.
Twenty-nine communities living around the sanctuary rely largely on the forest for water, income, food, fuel, and medication. This makes the sanctuary vulnerable to pressure from largescale poaching for bush meat for income, protein and encroachment. Through its protected area management approach, the sanctuary is jointly managed with the local communities to protect its integrity and support green income generating activities.

Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the four protected areas within the South West Region where WWF works through its Coastal Forests Programme. Being a technical partner, WWF facilitates the implementation of protected area management strategy in collaboration with the regional delegations and park services of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. This is done within the framework of the Programme for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources - South West Region supported by the German government-owned Development Bank, KfW.

Biodiversity hotspot

Created by Prime Ministerial Decree of March 12, 1996, the sanctuary covers a surface area of 66.220ha of mainly sub-montane vegetation, with the management objective to conserve the biodiversity of the area and to develop and promote eco-tourism. The sanctuary is a biological hotspot and an important site for primate conservation. It harbors key flagship species, including:  the Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) with its famous ‘elephant market’ (a saltlick situated in the Sanctuary visited  by elephants), the Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes vellerosus), the Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), about 322 species of avifauna, 71 species of reptiles, 2 species of tortoise, 23 species of lizards and 46 species of snakes.
 
Guns seized from suspected poachers
© Janet Mukoko/WWF
The Bayang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary is composed of semi-Montane vegetation
© WWF/CFP
Rich in wildlife, the Bayang Mbo Sanctuary is under pressure from poaching for bush meat
© Camera trap PSMNR