- Law enforcement officials in southern Cameroon have arrested five poachers after being caught with close to one hundred elephant tusks, as well as the remains of other slaughtered endangered species such as leopard and chimpanzee.
It is reported that the poachers used a military truck to transport their cargo when they were arrested. The arrest again documents the high level of organisation of poachers and other environmental criminals in Cameroon.
Environmentalists today welcomed the swift action by Cameroonian wildlife authorities. The forests of southern Cameroon and northern Gabon are among the last refuges of the threatened Central African elephant. Concerns are great over the elephant specie's survival possibilities as poaching for ivory has become widespread here.
Long viewed as a valuable commodity - used for carvings, jewellery, and other artifacts - the illegal killing of elephants for ivory and meat has been identified as one of the species' major threats. "The Central Africa region is the principal source of illegal ivory in trade today, both within Africa and internationally," according to the environmentalist group WWF.
WWF today lauded the efforts and vigilance of agents of the department in charge of wildlife and law enforcement in Cameroon. "This and other important seizures across Cameroon are the visible results of collaborative efforts between the wildlife, administrative, and judicial authorities," said Laurent Somé, Regional Representative of the WWF Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO).
"Precise levels of poaching in the region are often unclear and many governments have inadequate resources and capacity to monitor or protect their elephants," said Dr Martin Tchamba, WWF CARPO's Technical Manager.
According to information gathered by WWF, the poached ivory is transported to major cities principally by road, but also reaches regional and international destinations by air and through seaports. Cameroon and Congo Kinshasa (DRC) are two of the most important countries in terms of illegal trade routes abroad, WWF claims.
"The recent elephant seizure in Cameroon, unfortunately, is indicative of the permanent threat that poaching poses to the rich biodiversity of the entire region and gives a clear message that more concerted efforts are needed both on the part of governments and conservation organisations," Mr Somé however added.
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