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Press Releases of Friday, 8 August 2014

Source: WWF CCPO [email protected]

WWF calls on Biya to lead case against wildlife crime

Yaounde- Cameroon (August 1, 2014)

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) calls on Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, to take leadership against illegal wildlife trafficking at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington this week, by pushing for concrete high-level measures to combat this serious crime.

WWF International Director General, Marco Lambertini urges President Biya to appeal for a United Nations General Assembly resolution that would provide a political platform to support existing international resolutions and commitments in a bid to firmly confront this “serious organised transnational crime.”

The resolution would reinforce cooperation between illegal wildlife source, transit and destination countries, and support existing mechanisms to fight this crime.

WWF also calls for the appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General with the mandate to promote understanding of the economic and social threats of illicit wildlife trade, and establish an integrated approach and concerted action to improve governance and fight against wildlife species trafficking.

In the last 18 months, wildlife crime has become a serious preoccupation at the highest political level. “There is a global awareness, this crime is not limited to the environment but also other sectors including economic, social development, state of law, justice and the customs department,” said Lambertini. While dozens of world leaders are now committed to eradicating this phenomenon many crucial actions are yet to be implemented. They include strengthening the judiciary sector with better awareness, capacity and resources to ensure that the legal framework for legal wildlife trade is efficient and transparent and that perpetrators receive the strongest penalties available.

Cameroon is one of the 170 countries signatories of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which regulates the international trade of wild flora and fauna species. Lambertini calls on President Biya to request the “full implementation of CITES decisions on the fight against illicit wildlife trafficking.”Of the 52 African countries that are CITES members, 49 will be represented at the Washington summit.

Part of the Congo Basin, which is the world’s second largest rain forest after the Amazon, Cameroon harbours incredible biodiversity, including an estimated 20,000 elephants. Across Africa, elephants are poached for their tusks, even if under international law, ivory trade is currently banned. But rising income and increase demand in Asia, especially China and Thailand, is pushing ivory prices to record levels.

In 2012, heavily armed Sudanese poachers slaughtered more than 300 elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park in the north of Cameroon. In a swift attempt to prevent further massacres, the Government stepped up security around several national parks and reserves.

According to statistics, between January 2013 to April 2014, at least 40 poachers were arrested, tried and sentenced to various prison terms with fines as high FCFA 50 million ($100,000). A total of 102 tusks were seized during this period. “While WWF praises Cameroon and other African nations for engaging in the fight against illicit wildlife trafficking, much more needs to be done to turn high-level commitments into decisive actions,” said Lambertini.

For further information and inquiries, please contact Fidelis Pegue Manga – WWF CCPO [email protected] 79233371/99893538