Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hundreds of Sculpted Ivory Products Seized (Cameroon)

Wild elephant drinking at a man-made watering hole in Africa. Drought can make wildlife more vulnerable to poaching. Photo: Sally Kneidel

Article below reprinted from the Cameroon Tribune, June 27, 2011

Douala (Wouri) - Two wildlife traffickers were arrested in Akwa,  Douala in the Littoral Region, following a sting operation carried out by the Littoral Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife.

They were arrested in possession of two ivory tusks and over a hundred of sculpted ivory products. They were about to sell the illegal ivory products when they were arrested. The government of Cameroon has put in place procedures and regulations to protect natural resources from leaving the country that is why according to Mrs Fosi Mary, former technical advi ser of Environment and the Protection of Nature, "Countries have a sovereign right over their biological resources and no one can collect any resource from a country without the prior consent of the country of origin, so the government of Cameroon, within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES and other conventions in the field of environment is trying to protect resources from leaving the countries without authorization We receive applications from people who want to move resources from the country and we provide authorizations and certificates of origin of the resources concerned which is shown at the ports of entry”.

To curb this phenomenon, the Central African subregion has seen the emergence of projects involved in wildlife law enforcement with project such as the wildlife enforcement program launched in Cameroon in 2003 by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in collaboration with LAGA – an international non governmental organization specialized in wildlife law enforcement coming into action. The success of this project has seen its replication in countries such as Congo Braz with the PALF project, in the Central African Republic with the RALF project and in Gabon with the AALF project. All of these projects work on the same basis - specializing in wildlife law enforcement.

Traffickers know very well that they need a license for their activities but they simply go ahead illegally, for want of larger profits. This is done in discriminately, regardless of whether the species are in class A, B or C.

They trade in all kinds of species in cluding totally protected wildlife species. Numerous wildlife species have gone extinct in the African continent some include the Barbary lion that once roamed large areas in North Africa from Morocco to Egypt.

Law enforcement it seems is the only viable alternative for the moment against the illegal trade in protected species. While we may hold work shops and seminars to reflect on the mitigation and the halting of the rate of extermination of our wildlife spe cies, the species in earnest are dying out each day. It is estimated that about 6 lions are lost per year in the Waza national park and it is believed that less than 20 lions are left in the park. From the arithmetic, this means that we may be bidding farewell to lions in the next 3 or 4 years having been killed to extinction.

Keywords: elephants sculpted ivory seized seizure poaching Cameroon illegal wildlife trade blackmarket trade in wildlife illegal trade

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