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Crime & Punishment of Monday, 4 April 2016

Source: The Median Newspaper

Wildlife trafficker arrested in Bafang

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A suspected wildlife trafficker was arrested on March 29, 2016, in Bafang in the Upper Nkam Division of the West Region following a sting operation carried out by wildlife officials from the Divisional Delegation working on information gathered through investigations that took several weeks to complete.

The team that was assisted by gendarmes arrived at the scene of transaction to find the trafficker with a consignment of various wildlife species including a skin slashed from a young python, a mandrill, an elephant tail, three fresh heads from recently killed chimpanzees and seven chimp skulls.

The 37-year-old suspect travelled from Nkondjock in the Littoral Region, where he collected the products from some poachers to Bafang to do business. As he sat waiting for his client, wildlife officials who had completed investigations on his movements arrived to whisk him away for interrogation.

Shocked he offered no resistance, but quietly obeyed orders given to him. The operation was carried out with the technical assistance from an NGO called The Last Great Organisation (LAGA).

This is a special kind of trafficker who deals in various types of wildlife species, experts say, demonstrating that trafficking is a profession albeit an illicit one.

In such a scenario, the trafficker has a huge base of poachers who supply various kinds of wildlife species. What was of particular interest to bystanders was the three chimpanzee heads from freshly killed chimpanzees.

Since the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife is on a renewed alert to stem the trafficking of protected species in the country.

In this respect, Sakoue Isaac, the Upper Nkam Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, declared shortly after the arrest of the man by the forces that: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, we are now at the repressive stage and anyone who defies the wildlife law shall be dealt with accordingly.”

This what the Ministry has been doing over the last couple months with important collaborative efforts with LAGA to arrest an already precarious situation.

It should be noted that an estimated 4000 chimpanzees are killed each year to supply the blossoming meat market in Africa and as by-products of the illicit meat trade, chimpanzee heads and skulls are attracting a different kind of buyers.

Investigations carried out in the country over the last couple of years show that this specialized trade is cross boundary and buyers come from as far as Nigeria to fetch chimp heads and skulls.

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