Major Cameroon raid nets key poachers, weapons and huge bushmeat haul | WWF
Major Cameroon raid nets key poachers, weapons and huge bushmeat haul

Posted on 07 May 2009

Authorities in southeast Cameroon last week seized more than 1,000 kgs of illegal bush meat and guns, and arrested 15 wildlife poachers in an unprecedented police operation.
Yaoundé, Cameroon: Authorities in southeast Cameroon last week seized more than 1,000 kgs of illegal bush meat and guns, and arrested 15 wildlife poachers in an unprecedented police operation.

Prompted by concerns about poaching from WWF, the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife organized a major week-long anti poaching operation in the region in tandem with the national military. A combined unit of soldiers, police and game rangers uncovered more than 1,000 kg of bush meat, the remains of which included several protected species: gorillas, elephants, and chimpanzees. They also confiscated more than 30 guns from the suspected poachers, including high calibre rifles and illegally owned war weapons (AK-47’s).

Among those arrested was a municipal councilor, suspected of being a white collar elephant poacher based in the town of Moloundou, south of Nki National Park. Three other notorious elephant poachers, a Central African, a Congolese and a Cameroonian were arrested around Boumba Bek and Lobeke National Parks.

WWF is now calling on the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to push for the swift prosecution of the 15 suspected poachers arrested to properly complete last week’s spectacular anti-poaching drive.

“The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife deserves praises in taking this bold step to check what had become a rampant and uncontrolled destruction of species by a few individuals to the detriment of the local population”, said Natasha K. Quist, Regional Representative for WWF in Central Africa. “However, the success of this operation should be measured by the effectiveness of the judicial process brought against the suspects. We must avoid a situation whereby the same people who have been arrested are back in the forest the very next day to continue with illegal activities”, she noted.

The operation was carried out in targeted villages with the help of local traditional rulers and the local population. The teams also carried out in-forest and maritime patrols during which two elephant tusks, three elephant tails and great ape parts were confiscated.

“It is critical for both government and other stakeholders to examine the alarming wildlife decimation in order to forestall what could turn out to be a regrettable carnage and irreversible loss of biodiversity”, says Martin Tchamba, national director for WWF Cameroon. “We need to urgently work out the causes of the present poaching upsurge and determine appropriate actions in order to safeguard key wildlife species in and around the parks”.

For almost two decades, WWF has been active in southeast Cameroon, working to support both the authorities and the local people in their efforts to protect a unique forest environment and the precious eco-systems it contains.

Anti poaching efforts spearheaded by Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, and supported by WWF, so far have produced significant results.

Some 59 people were charged with forest and wildlife related crime in the Southeast of Cameroon in 2008. Among the accused, 54 face charges of poaching protected species and illegally carrying guns (among which were about 20 war guns, or Kalashnikovs) while five were accused of illegal wood exploitation. The courts so far have heard and decided 49 cases, sentencing 47 people to between 10 days and three year jail terms. The court also has issued fines ranging between FCFA 27,000 and 2.7 million (approx. between 50 and 5,000 US $). Two of the suspects have been acquitted while 10 are still facing trial.




Authorities in southeast Cameroon last week seized more than 1,000 kgs of illegal bush meat and guns, and arrested 15 wildlife poachers.
© Ph. Jengi/ WWFCARPO