A man has been arrested with over 100 of carved ivory pieces in a shop that sells arts objects and located at the ground floor of a popular hotel in Yaounde. The arrest that took place last week was carried out by wildlife officials from the Centre Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife.
Accompanied by police officers from the judicial police, they arrived the hotel and move into the shop where they waited for a couple of minutes for the storekeeper who was absent to come. He was presented with the search warrant and the store thoroughly searched to reveal over 100 carved ivory pieces among the other arts objects on display. He was taken to the office of the judicial police chief where the owner of the shop, on hearing the arrest, would turned up a day later. They were both interrogated and statements taken down.
The operation, is basically the first of its kind in several years as traffickershave mostly resorted to selling raw ivory tusks which are then illegally exported out of the country. This situation was very peculiar because one could clearly see carved ivory pieces among other wooden artefacts on the shelves of the shop in a very popular hotel that is visited by so many people. Prices were equally found on the carved ivory pieces. The operation was carried out with the technical assistance of LAGA (EAGLE Cameroon).
Observers were left spell bound to the fact this shop operates in the middle of Yaounde where law enforcement activities against ivory traffickers have been intense over the last few years. According to inside sources that spoke on condition of anonymity, investigations carried out point to the fact that Chinese buyers are generally the main clients buying ivory from the shop. In spite of the huge media activity against trafficking in ivory products, this continues even in places as open as this shop.
The case file is being established for the prosecution process to begin and according to the wildlife law, anyone found in possession of parts of a protected wildlife species is considered
to have killed or captured the animal and the law further says such a person is liable to a prison term of up to 3 years and or a fine of maximum 10 million francs. The law was enacted to deter trafficking in parts of protected species, especially ivory which has over the years been rising in value leading to increased profits for black market illegal traffickers. This has led to the slaughter,since 2006,of an estimated 110 000 of the approximated 415 000elephants found in 37 range states on the continent with the hardest hit areas found in the Central African sub region.